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AUTUMN SYMPHONY

Hostsonaten

Rock Progressivo Italiano


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tszirmay
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Crossover Team
4 stars I get the first kick at this one! On Halloween night, I must be blessed!

Höstsonaten is an established offshoot project from the energetic, prolific and polyvalent Fabio Zuffanti , Italy's version of Steve Wilson or Roine Stolt, who has cemented such fabled RPI acts as Finisterre and La Maschera di Cera. His musical resumé is too long to list but he can be heard delving into prog versions of folk, jazz, ambient and symphonic. A masterful bassist but most of all, a creative mind, he has nurtured this project for more than a decade now and "Autumnsymphony" is the latest chapter in the seasonal cycle that began with the pastoral masterpiece "Springsong" and the ridiculously fabulous previous jewel "Winterthrough", two albums that I regard as symphonic monuments in reflective /introspective prog. Suffice to say I was awaiting this one with unbridled trepidation being a massive fan of the fall season to boot but after a few anguished spins, I cannot really raise this one beyond the other 2 ?yet. The artwork is as breathtaking as the preceding one, winter blues replaced by fall ochre and golden hues, setting the melancholic mood that autumn generally evokes. Significantly, the initial forlorn soundscapes on "Open windows to autumn" recall the sorrow of rustling trees shedding their crisp leaves, a binary double bass echoing between the fluttering cymbals and polyrhythmic drum patters, a brilliant trumpet blaring the sudden flight from the warm summer breeze. This is highly robust ambient prog with jazzy pretense, gently howling mellotron entering hand in hand with its usual ideal partner, the flute. It is certainly a haunting musical signature that sets the proper mood and segues nicely into "Leaves in the well" introducing guitarist Matteo Nahum's glowing electric guitar leads as well as some welcome classical work, with an only too rare added feature, the Japanese koto. The evolving keyboard-laced symphonics are pointedly accurate, choir mellotron injecting some grandeur and majesty while Marco Moro's flute sprinkles its sweet passion. On "Out of water", things get very orchestral with the impromptu appearance of cello, viola, violin, oboe and piccolo, blending the swirl of fluttering strains into the mix. "Nightswan I" is a special effects cocktail, heavily electronic and with the rumbling double bass, highly contemplative, while "II" raises the level another notch with another majestic series of electric guitar runs, a rampant flute , simple drum beat and whirling synths, the 'tron coughing , this is pure proggy bliss. The very jazzy "As the night?" has an amazing bagpipe setting, somberly pensive in league with that amazing Michele Bernabei trumpet (an instrument criminally underused in prog!), some churning Stick work, and a little Genoese whispering to add some spice. Stringsynth and mellotron are served up as bonus candy coating. The jazz vibe gets rather upbeat on "Trees in November", a playful romp that has shuffling drums, fun-loving flute and a guitar solo at first closer to George Benson than Steve Hackett (which happens later), a welcome surprise. "Elegy" has the sublime voice of Simone Angioloni who "lead microphoned" Zuffanti's brilliant Aries project, a soaringly crisp voice that wails passionately , almost near opera , a definite winner. The final nearly 6 minute track is the absolute winner here, incorporating all the glorious musicianship displayed previously = the double bass, the various strings, the elegant piano and mellotron, the flute, trumpets and oboe and that crystal clear voice. As stated earlier, this is an excellent release that cannot surpass the imperial majesty of "Winterthrough" but shores up the RPI mantle very nicely and it is Halloween after all. 4.5 aromatic chestnut trees

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Send comments to tszirmay (BETA) | Report this review (#247553)
Posted Saturday, October 31, 2009 | Review Permalink
Marty McFly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Errors and Omissions Team
4 stars Symphonic, almost classical music here combined (only sometimes) with rock. And it's not everything, you can except bagpipes, RPI keyboards and (of course, I almost forgot), no vocals. Music that depends on you enjoying silent moments in it. It should be RPI, but it's not at all. Remember this fantasy-like group "Ainur" ? So As The Night Gives Birth To The Morning quite a reminds me it in the middle part, except then it turns into jamming groovy solo with dominant trumpet. Weird, but not bad. So far, all these things quite persuaded me that it's very good album, but does it belongs to masterpiece position ? Where's the "must-be-here" reason for this ? Nice flute and similar instruments in next track, Trees In November.

4(+), nope, even very good, there are too many silent parts for my taste. Very relaxating album, if you want to chill out in prog style. Equivalent to Lightbulb Sun a little bit.

And I believe it could be masterpiece for some. For example me.

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Send comments to Marty McFly (BETA) | Report this review (#250722)
Posted Sunday, November 15, 2009 | Review Permalink
Andrea Cortese
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars When I first heard the opener of this album I said: WOW!

Hostsonaten meets MILES DAVIS! I could not believe that! What kind of RPI or italian symphonic prog is it? The way Zuffanti & co. have painted the fall season is simple and effective: they decided to use jazz patterns, irregular drums and trumpet... I knew it was about falling leaves... it's hard to judge which (and how many) will fall next... so the music.

A similar choice they made for the excellent "As the Night Gives Birth to the Morning"... a duet of trumpet and bagpipes. Then trumpet again in a slow (Shhh-Peaceful) pressing crescendo.

These two numbers are the gems of the record. Unfortunately you can't find anything else like them (the second half of "Out of Water" apart). Just imagine the typical folk (acoustic guitar) and pastoral (flute) side of the band, the symphonic extended atmospheres (the mighty mellotron, graceful grand piano, violin, viola, cello and oboe as in "Out of Water"), the dreamy electric guitars (sometimes a la GENESIS-Wind and Wuthering as in "Leaves in the Well"), the fascinating minimoog' solos, even eastern koto's gentle touches and... the said bagpipes.

"Elegy" is a classical-based aria full of melancholy, sung (no lyrics) by Simona Angioloni (singer in ARIES), I think the one and only sung-track in all the Hostonaten's Four Seasons.

I can't decide if i like this one or Winterthrough more. For sure Autumnsymphony is more eclectic. Way better than the highly acclaimed Summereve, their last effort.

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Send comments to Andrea Cortese (BETA) | Report this review (#565691)
Posted Thursday, November 10, 2011 | Review Permalink
andrea
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars "Autumnsymphony" is the second part of Höstonaten's cycle of the seasons and was released in 2009 on the independent label AMS/BTF with a line up featuring along with composer and producer Fabio Zuffanti (bass, bass pedals, acoustic and electric guitar, Fender Rhodes, mellotron, minimoog) also Federico Foglia (drums), Pietro Martinelli (double bass), Carlo Barreca (stick), Giacomo Villa (cello), Osvaldo Loi (viola, violin), Marco Moro (flute, piccolo), Andrea Benassi (oboe), Michele Bernabei (trumpet), Edmondo Romano (sax, bagpipes, Robbo Vigo (grand piano, koto special effects), Matteo Nahum (classical and electric guitar) and Simona Angioloni (vocals). Here the musical colours of Autumn are painted with a touch of jazz and classical inspired passages. On the wonderful art cover by Davide Guidoni you can see some men walking in a wood and entering into the mist: in my opinion all you have to do to enjoy this album is following them, they will lead you into a magic realm of dreams and notes...

The opener "Open Windows To Autumn" begins with a soft drumming and pulsing double bass lines, then a trumpet solo contributes to draw a disquieting, dark mood. What can you see from your window in a foggy autumnal day? Probably just some shadows and shapes, you hae to imagine the rest... The following track "Leaves In The Well (Including Riverbank Prelude)" features a melancholic atmosphere and a good guitar work while "Out Of Water" begins with a delicate piano and violin passage before turning into bolero and jazz... Well, the art work is not limited to the cover, in the booklet you can find a painting describing each track and in my opinion they perfectly fit the music. The third painting represents a brook, the fourth a swan in a pond.... Now the day is getting darker, but you can see a white swan swimming in a pond and you can look at its acrobatics on the notes of "Nightswan I and II"... All night long the image of the swan hangs over, then a trumpet backed by a bagpipe announces the dawn and the beginning of the new day depicted in "As The Night Gives Birth To The Morning". A joyful passage of flute in "Trees In November" reminds you that, all in all, the autumnal landscape of the woods can be of such intense beauty to push you to dance, then, as the music calms down, you can rest and contemplate the magic of the nature. In November they celebrate All Souls' Day or the Day of the Dead and on "Elegy" the beautiful voice of Simona Angioni soars drawing a wordless, melancholic melody to remember you the dead people you miss. The crepuscular "Autumn's Last Breath / The Gates Of Winter" concludes the album... "It's not dark yet, but the end is here, in front of me...". The last words are a quote from a film directed by Werner Herzog, Heart of Glass...

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Send comments to andrea (BETA) | Report this review (#601672)
Posted Monday, January 02, 2012 | Review Permalink
apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Neo Prog Team
3 stars The Seasoncycle suite divided into four parts continues for Hostsonaten aka Mr. Fabio Zuffanti.Releasing the albums in reverse order, ''Autumnsymphony'' is actually the second part of the cycle, coming out in 2009 on BTF.This time Zuffanti is helped by no less than 12 musicians/singers, with only Romano, Vigo and Nahum being stable compared to ''Winterthrough''.Drums are handled this time by former Zaal drummer Federico Foglia.

A whole armoury of traditional/classical instruments such as viola, cello, oboe, piccolo, bagpipes and trumpets stand opposite to the rock instrumentation of Hostsonaten once more.But this time Zuffanti gives space to more ambient and New Age atmospheres with the intense presence of folklore elements, while the more symphonic orchestrations are limited and, if present, more laid-back.The style is now wider, ranging from Classical-influenced instrumentals to pure atmospheric Folk adventures and jazzy passages with a good rhythm section.Most of the album's length is dedicated to Folk/Classical ambiences with a very deep but also quite lounge atmosphere, where acoustic guitars and traditional instruments are leading the way, to be slightly supported by mellow bass/drums and background keyboards.A couple of the compositions remind of the band's earlier efforts, Symphonic/Folk Rock with a grandiose approach, where keyboards, flutes and electric guitars collaborate nicely.But there is also an obvious tendency by the Italian master to more Jazz-oriented material as well, with electric solos in the vein of JAN AKKERMANN, presence by contrabass and light improvised sections.

Deeply atmospheric music with a melancholic Autumn touch, which regards a specific mood to be fully appreciated.Not the best Hostsonaten stuff around but still recommended for its diversity and quality musicianship.

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Send comments to apps79 (BETA) | Report this review (#729795)
Posted Monday, April 16, 2012 | Review Permalink

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