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Franco Battiato - Messa Arcaica CD (album) cover

MESSA ARCAICA

Franco Battiato

 

Rock Progressivo Italiano

3.04 | 5 ratings

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octopus-4
Special Collaborator
RIO/Avant/Zeuhl Team
3 stars I'm not familiar with catholic liturgy so I can't say how much this "Messa Arcaica" with its five parts is conformant to it, but I guess it is as this classical composition of this very eclectic artist was performed for the first time in the Saint Francis Basilica in Assisi.

After "Genesi" and "Gilgamesh" which had a strong classical and operatic component Battiato attempts a fully classical composition for orchestra and choir on which he sings some solo parts.

All the lyrics are in Latin and this is one of the reason why this "Messa" is "Arcaica"(Archaic).

So it's natural that a single piano note starts the "Kyrie". The single notes played by the piano are echoed by the orchestra like it's enhancing the harmonics. This is an effect that could have been obtained with loops and tapes, but Battiato as composer has the ability of realizing it live with the brasses, the organ and the strings. Who likes the avantgarde period of Battiato will surely appreciate this quite long track (about 15 minutes). It takes 4 minutes before the choir jointed to a strings crescendo comes to bring variations, but it's just for few seconds as the base of piano and harmonics doesn't change. The choir comes and goes while the piano proceeds in the same way, just putting a chord instead of a single note sometimes. This is the proggiest and longest track of the album.

"Gloria", as the title says, could not be dark. This is a proper anthem and the music in this case is mainly based on a single open strings chord with the choir and the rest of the orchestra playing variations on the harmonics. This track is clearly influenced by the minimalistic period of Battiato. Also the piano which plays few notes at apparently irregular intervals is not too dissimilar from "L'Egitto Prima Delle Sabbie", even remaining in the classical realm. The organ coda dissolves on minor chords.

The third, short, movement is the "Credo" (I believe). I'm quite sure that also this is a standard part of the liturgy, however after the soprano who reaches very bass notes for a soprano Battiato and the choir alternate in a way that reminds to the Orff's Carmina Burana and terminates with a piano coda.

"Sanctus"(Saint) is again made of an orchestral chord just to support the choir. Potentially it could have been a choir only piece, but considering the pauses it would have been made of a lot of silence. This is another track that can appeal who likes the second period of Battiato.

The last movement is the "Agnus Dei" (God's Lamb). The trumpets over the minor chord played by the strings makes me think to the After Crying's "De Profundis", then Battiato sings "Agnus Dei qui tollis peccata mundi" that's for what I know a standard prayer. The God's Lamb which removes sins from the world is Jesus Christ. After this start the choir and the orchestra are perfectly fused, then comes the soprano part. Who knows Battiato enough will recognize some of his progressive structures in the orchestral parts, but be warned: this is nothing else than classical music.

Well, I'm not sure that classical music lovers can love also this album, but for my non-expert opinion the composition and the orchestral and choir direction are good enough.

With this album Battiato demonstrates, I think, that he hasn't never abandoned the way he was running in the late 70s.

octopus-4 | 3/5 |

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