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Angelo Branduardi - Branduardi Canta Yeats CD (album) cover

BRANDUARDI CANTA YEATS

Angelo Branduardi

Rock Progressivo Italiano


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4 stars After having put in music the Russian Esenin on his debut, Angelo Branduardi makes an entire album based on the poetry of the Irish William Butler Yeats translated and adapted by Luisa Zappa (No relation with Frank). It also contains a cover: the third track is "The Song Of Wandering Aengus" translated into Italian that comes from Donovan.

For who doesn't know Branduardi let's say that this is not properly RPI. His music based on a strong classical background and world folk traditionals mainly Celtic and British is closer to artists like Alan Stivell or Malicorne.This is what you can expect. In general, when one of his albums has a concept it's more a collection of songs tied together by a common theme, like in this case the poetry of Yeats, than properly a concept album.

"I Cigni Di Coole" (The Wild Swans at Coole) is mainly classical guitar and voice with few percussions. It's a melodic ballad. (almost all the album is made of melodic ballads).

"Il Cappello a Sonagli" has a more medieval mood, (The Cap and the Bells) is about a joker in a court and this is a typical medieval thing. A very good song still based mainly on classical guitar and voice.

If I hadn't known that this song is from Donovan I couldn't guess it. Of course the song is arranged closer to Branduardi's style, but it doesn't sound too different from some of his best songs like "La Sposa Rubata" just to mention one similar enough. I don't know the original but this appears to be a great song.

"Il Mantello, La Barca e la Scala" (The Cloak, the Boat, and the Shoes) starts as a slow samba, but still sticks in the usual classical/medieval genre.

"A Una Bambina Che Danza Nel Vento" (To a Child Dancing in the Wind) is a veru short song but still similar to the rest.

"Il Violinista di Dooney" (The Fiddler of Dooney) was the "hit single". Effectively this album didn't sell a lot, but this is the song which had more radio passages actually and effectively is the most interesting also in terms of signature and when Angelo plays his instrument that's the violin it's always a pleasure.

"Quando Tu Sarai" (When You Are Old) is sad and has a very "Old British" sound. I remember old Clannad of the 70s. Musically also this reminds to "La Sposa Rubata".

"Un Aviatore Irlandese Prevede la sua Morte" (An Irish Airman Foresees His Death), regardless the dramatic theme the music is peaceful and based on major chords. Effectively the poem says

" I KNOW that I shall meet my fate Somewhere among the clouds above; Those that I fight I do not hate, Those that I guard I do not love; ...... (not pasting all to avoid copyright issues) The years to come seemed waste of breath, A waste of breath the years behind In balance with this life, this death."

It has been published by Yeats just after the end of the 1st world war (1919).

"Nel Giardino dei Salici" (Down by the Salley Gardens) Is a love poem so it's a love song, too. two minutes of dreamy guitar and whispered vocals.

Finally "Innisfree, L'isola sul Lago" (The Lake Isle of Innisfree) is more symphonic and reminds to another old Branduardi's song, "La Favola Degli Aironi". In this song he tries to recreate the contemplative state of mind of the poem, but at the end it results in being a little boring.

So an advise: I'm going to rate this album high, but you won't find any electric instrument, neither drums or bass. It's almost classical or folk music with celtic influences. Grab a copy of Yeats' poems in your preferred language and follow the music. Don't try this album while driving :)

One curiosity: Yeats was a member of the Golden Dawn, an esotheric secret society connected to the Egyptian Massonery which included people like Bram Stoker. There's a lot of prog from the dark side inspired to those guys, maybe some modern adepts are included on PA, too.

Report this review (#512153)
Posted Wednesday, August 31, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars This album is a showcase of an artist who, at that point in his career, had the courage to focus on the substantial basics of singer/songwriting and strip away the rest. The Poems of William Butler Yeats, carefully translated into Italian Language by Luisa Zappa-Branduardi, shaped into song, two guitars, a violin, percussion and, never too much and always in the right place, sensitive string-arrangements was all it took to make a great record that pleased not only Branduardi's fans and critics but was meant to conquer the hearts and ears of many other people as well, not a few of them confessing that they aren't fans of Branduardi's "regular output".

And it's ridiculous. An album so free of blatancy, an album relying on quality beyond all fashion and with no obvious "hitsingle", an album as unobtrusive as possible so people HAVE to listen closely or they don't notice the music at all - and in spite of all worries it may have caused to record company exects it worked ! People noticed ! People listened ! The artists succeeded ! It's a classic ! Well, miracles happen... fact is, Branduardi and Fabrizio are a team of such splendid potency, they could not do wrong, they understand and supplement each other so well it's like they play the right things together while sleeping ( or sleepwalking, the whole album has a somnambule atmosphere ), and, to anyone who already knew this, an album like "Canta Yeats" was long overdue !

"Il Violinista di Dooney", the "one" track that made it onto "Best ofs" because it's not that a tranquil affair but a joyous dance ( spartanic and bulky, though ), does not even belong to the greatest moments on the album. It's important cause it's keeping it from being a sole collection of quiet and slow songs, a welcome moment of variety, but once you got familiar with the other songs... well, you ought to love them. Perhaps it's easiest to start with "Nel Giradino dei Salici" ( Branduardi's Version of "Down by the Sally Gardens" ). The melody, related to John Denver's "Annie's song" without being a rip-off, is so charming that it surely stands out at first listen. Branduardi's voice is intruiging and those guitars... the best of craftsmanship you can get while the players are in reflective mood and follow their inspiration. Don't get me wrong - they aren't out for self-indulgent noodling or ego-trips, they supply lovely ornaments to the songs while all they do is accompany the melody and give a sparse body to it. But every note they play is the right one - and so it seems that each singular note gets celebrated. I think that on "Il Mantello, La Barca e le Scarpe" ( "The Cloak, the boat and the Shoes" from "Crossways" ) it's most obvious how much the duo aimed at doing so. And how much they themselves enjoy it - they start swinging together, hooked on a riff, as if they forget the whole world around them.

This album is full of moments like that. "Quando tu sarai..." ( "When you are old" from "The Rose" ) is another outstanding performance. The melody is related to Branduardi's own "La Sposa Rubata", but gets improved in the intimate atmosphere. While all of the songs reveal the great care and love that went into their making one by one, it's got to be said that, in the end, the gem and true highspot of the album turns out to be the Donovan-Song "La Canzone di Aengus, il Vagabundo", which probably was the starting point and inspiration for the whole project. Branduardi is a big Donovan fan. To be honest, I am not, but what he did to that song leaves me sitting in awe. He made it his own and this alone is worth the price of admission ( and a 5 star-rating - but this is PA and the whole album is as much prog as "Tea for the Tillerman" ). The voice... the guitars... the string-chart added so sensitively it's like an anti-thesis to Phil Spector. They're creeping in at exactly the right moments and send shivers up and down my spine. I do believe that Branduardi loves this song to pieces. It's exactly what you can feel.

By the time you've reached the end of "Canta Yeats", with the overly-mellow and string-loaded ( for once on this album they've been allowed to carry a song and really sound big ) "Innisfree", you may feel reborn. You've just left behind every bit of stress this world can pull you through and suppress you with. And this may be the reason why it's been so successful and why it's rated so high after all these years, still. Music like this is so badly needed in our times ! You only make such an album for once in your life. It'd be a big mistake to go and try repeat it. Branduardi knows. He never attempted. He moved on afterwards. It remains a singular and outstanding moment in his discography. And you know... my absolute fave it ain't, still. So this should tell you how much I came to admire Branduardi with the years. Thank you, Angelo.

Report this review (#634871)
Posted Thursday, February 16, 2012 | Review Permalink

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