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Minstrel Faust album cover
4.16 | 36 ratings | 8 reviews | 29% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2000

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Preludio (Una Selva Una Storia) (1:20)
2. Atto I, Scena I: Bellatrix (5:28)
3. Atto I, Scena II: Mefistofele (8:55)
4. Atto I, Scena III: Il Castello (6:52)
5. Atto II, Scena I: Faust (9:49)
6. Atto II, Scena II: La Neve (7:52)
7. Finale (Ogni Viaggio) (4:17)

Total Time: 44:33

Line-up / Musicians

- Gianpaolo Pasini / drums, percussion
- Marco Fiorina / bass
- Mauro Ghilardini / vocals, keyboards, piano
- Michele Savoldelli / guitars

With five characters-singers:
- Mario Bertasa / narrator
- Davide Ferrari / Mephistophele
- Giorgio Sala / Pater Estaticus
- Silvia Semperboni / Margaret
- Mauro Ghilardini / Faust

Releases information

CD Self production MIN06 Ita (2000)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
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MINSTREL Faust ratings distribution

(36 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(29%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(46%)
Good, but non-essential (17%)
Collectors/fans only (9%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

MINSTREL Faust reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by erik neuteboom
4 stars Here's a great album from 2000 by the Italian band Minstrel. It turned out to be their swansong, just another promising one-shot band from Italy!

1. Preludio (Una Selva Una Storia) (1:20) : This one contains spoken words in the Italian language.

2. Atto I, Scena I: Bellatrix (5:28) : The start is with twanging acoustic guitar, typical dramatic Italian vocals and wonderful keyboards. In the end a splendid 'finishing touch' featuring a fiery and very compelling electric guitar solo.

3. Atto I, Scena II: Mefistofele (8:55) : This track delivers an exciting tension between the acoustic piano and propulsive electric guitar. Also very moving is the acoustic guitar/piano interplay and a moving guitar solo, supported by a beautiful string sound. The final part is bombastic, in the great Italian progrock tradition!

4. Atto I, Scena III: Il Castello (6:52) : An up-tempo rhythm with fiery electric guitar, then a mellow part with piano, moving electric guitar and soaring keyboards. The vocals are great and the 'grand finale' carry you away to a progwalhalla!

5. Atto II, Scena I: Faust (9:49) : The intro features bombastic keyboards, then a mid- tempo with echoes from mid-Genesis, remarkable is the wah-wah drenched guitar solo.

6. Atto II, Scena II: La Neve (7:52) : First twanging gitars, dreamy vocals and mellow kebyoards, then a compelling bombastic atmosphere delivering a wonderful electric guitar solo.

7. Finale (Ogni Viaggio) (4:17) : This one only features piano and spoken words.


Review by tszirmay
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars This happens to be another magical/mystical and seemingly under appreciated Italian prog masterpiece from 2000. Allegedly, a new album has been due for a while ("Moby Dick") but until the hen lays the egg, "chick" out this one! Minstrel brazenly tackle the Faust epic (made famous by both Goethe-the book and Gounod-the opera, both stalwarts of the artistic world).

After a brief spoken prelude so typical of opera, the story kicks off with utter splendour as "Bellatrix" unleashes an immaculate vocal melody, "Splendi Ancor" sung by keyboardist Mauro Ghilardini , compounded by an astounding guitar rampage by Michele Savoldelli. What an entrance and an outright prog classic! "Mefistofele" introduces Satan's famed envoy with a searing ensemble riff, elevated by a massive aria that will make you shudder (this Mauro can wail!), huge synthesizer sweeps, ornate piano colourings and an explosive fret lead. When Faust and Mephisto (voice of Davide Ferrari) face off vocally, you know that you are witnessing rock-opera at its finest! "Il Castello" fuses wicked guitar arpeggios with majestic piano flourishes, with Mauro's powerful voice booming with unrivalled emotion over almost Brian May-ish guitar blasts (I joke not!), buoyed by some resilient organ/synth/harpsichord embellishments. The title Track "Faust" is the piece de resistance, a singularly genial lead melody with Mauro now singing in German, with Giorgio Sala adding Pater Estaticus' role and Mephisto adding his devilish temptation and bellowed laugh while Satan watches perversely amused! The finale now escalates in fervour, with Mauro's Faust pleading desperately. Unexpectedly, the next verse is sung in English (Shakespeare Love Sonnet n39), with heavy guitar fuelled barrages galore, pile driving the story forward! "La Neve" introduces an ensemble vocal work, with individual solos (the voluptuous Margherita) and some additional stellar axe exaltations. When the two vocalist exchange arias, the goose bumps finally make their entrance, the ideal duet for one of the most stunning vocal melodies ever tracked by rock musicians(a return visit to "Splendi Ancor"). The narrator brings this amazing work to roost, piano delicacies drawing down the velvet curtain.

5 devil bargains

Review by Finnforest
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars A soaring power-symphonic feast

What talent on display! Minstrel is an Italian band who began in the 90s and released this gem in 2000. It has been described by others as a rock opera and it certainly sounds like it in places, but it also just a very good heavy symphonic prog album. Based on the famous play "Faust" it is a dramatic feast of amazingly talented vocalists, especially the lead man Mauro Ghilardini who just has this booming operatic voice that would bring any room to their feet. It unfolds like a typical play with various scenes acted out with narration and superb vocal interplay. The music I described as soaring because it really does have that dramatic, larger than life, emotional feel to it. It is like Fiaba in that theatrical sense though much more symphonic than folk-metal. There is a slight metal edge here only in the guitar playing of Michele Savoldelli, who perhaps was influenced by 90s prog-metal guitarists. But the metal edge is only very slight in the occasional solo and sound of the chug. Mostly the guitar work is just very lush and dreamy, the solos delivered with great emotion but very disciplined restraint. As powerful as this music is there is always a good balance of light and heavy, and no musician ever gets carried away or selfish. For an independent project the quality of the composition and production are truly top notch. My only complaint is that it might be too good on that front, perhaps a bit over-polished and precious at times. In need of a bull or two in the china shop.

"emphasis laid squarely on classical melodies, operatic vocals and rocking guitar solos....high on drama and very operatic in nature, but not succumbing to the worst excesses of that genre. The music is gentle and romantic, with delicate acoustic guitars and subtle orchestration from the keyboards. Michele Savoldelli plays neo-classical solos with remarkable restraint, having all the technique but none of the arrogance and bluster of so-called "masters." Gianpaolo Pasini provides powerhouse backing on the drums, but always knows when to step off the gas. The whole piece is thoughtfully constructed, with plenty of contrasting sections, and includes some nice clarinet from Guiseppe Peracchi for that added authentic orchestral touch." -Dave Sissons, DPRP

This was a Tszirmay recommendation and he gave the album 5 stars. I can't go quite that far personally, but Tom is right as usual that this album is a gem. It will please all fans of melodic, high class, heavy (and romantic) symphonic progressive rock. The booklet provides nice liner notes and dialogue but only in Italian. This is an indie production distributed by a small label, so my advice is to get this sooner than later if it sounds interesting to you. It may not be around forever.

Review by ZowieZiggy
4 stars A concept album about the "Faust" myth. Why not?

It is remarkable that from such a dark theme, the music played on this album is so light, fresh and optimistic. The best example is the wonderful "Bellatrix" which features superb vocals and such a moving guitar finale. Truly poignant my prog friends!

The band doesn't ignore to play some bombastic parts either. But at no moment it sounds pretentious: on the contrary, the music is delicate and pretty much enjoyable. The balance between passionate vocals and excellent instrumental parts is a pure delight.

Even a piece like "Mefistofele" which should be dark, is positive, melodic and frankly sublime. Remarkable keyboards parts and a beautiful melody are on the menu. And what to say about the superb guitar work from Michele Savoldelli? This leaves me voiceless.

The tone is a bit harder during the title and longest track. Some prog metal lines can even be heard. But not too many, fortunately. Mauro, in the lead vocal role is again perfect and so passionate. A great song by all means!

This is a very good album from the naughties. Four stars.

Review by andrea
4 stars Minstrel began life in Bergamo in 1991 playing covers of bands such as Iron Maiden, Dream Theater, Whitesnake, Queensryche, Savatage and Helloween to name but a few. As years passed by the band added many other influences and musical colours to their musical palette. In 1997 they released a first, still immature, demo tape, "New Life", featuring their own early original compositions. After some line up changes and many troubles, in 2000 Minstrel released their real debut album, "Faust", a rock opera inspired by the work of the German poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. On this album the line up features Mauro Ghilardini (piano, keyboards), Michele Savoldelli (guitars), Gianpaolo Pasini (drums), Marco Fiorina (bass) plus the guest Giuseppe Peracchi (clarinet). Five singers share the vocal parts interpreting the different characters of the opera: Mario Bertasa (narrator), Mauro Ghilardini (Faust), Davide Ferrari (Mefistofele), Giorgio Sala (Pater Ecstaticus) and Silvia Semperboni (Margherita). On account of the low budget the album was recorded in less than a week, probably not enough for such an ambitious project. Nonetheless, thanks to the great musicianship of all the people involved in the recording sessions, the result is excellent.

Minstrel's "Faust" is an opera in two acts that opens with "Preludio ? Una foresta, una storia" (Prelude ? A forest, a story), a short spoken track where a narrator introduces the story... "I was born among spires of high gliding cathedrals...". The mysterious narrator, dressed as a medieval bard, invites you to listen to his words experiencing the emotions that only the old art of storytelling can give. That said, he bows and leaves on the first chords of the opera...

"Bellatrix" (Act I - Scene I) starts calmly, with a delicate acoustic guitar arpeggio. The curtain slowly opens revealing Faust kneeling, turned towards a star called Bellatrix, in the constellation Orion. The operatic voice of Mauro Ghilardini soars towards the star drawing a beautiful, melodic lay prayer to the light of knowledge... "You still shine / Where the grey sky embraces my pain / You still shine / Dry the cry with your tepid warmth...". Then the heartfelt notes of an evocative electric guitar solo lead to the next scene...

On "Mefistofele" (Act I - Scene II) twelve bell strokes bring Faust back to reality. He stands up and decides to walk looking for his castle, a Kafkaesque metaphor for Knowledge. As he walks his fears dance around him until he's tired and stops... "No friendly hand could trace the never-ending way for us, mortal wanderers dispersed on the sea / There's no wind to push me away / Now I sit down depressed and I slowly close my eyes...". An electric guitar solo leads to the meeting between Faust and the evil character of Mephistopheles who is biding his time nearby. An intense, theatrical operatic duet follows. Mephistopheles leads Faust on the way to the castle while demons and witches slowly appear around them "Let us open the confused dance / With the bitter smell of an ancient time... Pape satan, pape satan aleppe...".

On the next scene Faust approaches the castle. "Il castello" (The Castle - Act I - Scene III) begins with a frenzied rhythm and you can imagine Faust running towards the castle. Then the rhythm calms down... "Cold is the evening / That dark cloud is now gone / Sounds of stones and thorns make endlessly dream / Beyond the wind...". Faust has to face his doubts and his fears. He decides to interrogate what's left of his soul and his fears reply while an electric guitar solo leads the dance of anguish. Bellatrix still shines in the sky and lightens the way giving Faust new energies, pushing him beyond the wind, over the fears, closer and closer to the castle.

"Faust" (Act II ? Scene I) is a long, complex track featuring sudden changes in rhythm and atmosphere. Faust is inside the castle and begins to sing ecstatically in German some verses by Goethe... "Waldung, sie schwankt heran...". Well, the same verses inspired also, among others, Gustav Mahler for the second part of his Symphony n. 8 and Robert Schumann. Anyway here the result is quite different and the fight between good and evil is expressed with all the energy of a rock band and a strong theatrical emphasis in the vocal parts. Mephistopheles claims Faust's soul but Faust repents and is helped by the character of Pater Ecstaticus and by an army of angels. The battle between angels and demons rages on and in the end the angels prevail, helped by the Virgin Mary, Mater Gloriosa. The piece ends with Faust singing in English some verses taken from the Sonnet n. 39 by William Shakespeare... "Oh how thy worth with manners may I sing / When thou art all the better part of me? / What can mine own praise to mine own self bring and what is 't but mine own when I praise thee? / Even for this, let us divided live / And our dead love lose name of single one / That by this separation I may give / That due to thee which thou deservest alone...".

The next track, "La neve" (Act II ? Scene II), opens with a short electric guitar solo à la Santana, then from an acoustic guitar pattern the voice of Faust delicately soars. The battle is over and Faust goes out from the castle. Now he is surrounded by the snow that here is a metaphor for the troubles of life. Faust is full of regrets and misses an old love... "If I saw her open in flowers / Perhaps I'd flee from my agonies / I'm searching for the dawn...". The character of Pater Ecstaticus appears again to comfort him and a vocal duet follows drawing a melancholic atmosphere. Pater Ecstaticus is moved and he melts in the air. After a while he comes back with Faust's sweetheart, Margherita, then he quits leaving the two lovers alone. A romantic duet between Faust and Margherita follows and the stars of life shine again for them... "You shine on me, since I was a child we whispered in the evening... I live in you... Yes, you live in me... Life starts now... It still shines...".

"Finale (Ogni viaggio) (Finale - Each travel) concludes the opera. The narrator comes back on stage to tell us that every story is like a journey, with its taverns, tears and mists hanging on a pond... And a delicate music that accompanies us and solitary shines in our night. Now we are ready to begin now a new journey...

Review by BrufordFreak
4 stars Apparently, this is a bit of a rock opera from this one-off band. The effort is not wasted, though, as all aspects of this album are of the highest quality.

1. "Preludio (Una Selva Una Storia)" (1:20) spoken voice

2. "Atto I, Scena I: Bellatrix" (5:28) gently picked acoustic guitar chords that are joined by delicate voice and church organ. Synth provides flute and strings as bass joins in. Singing becomes more theatric/operatic. He's good! (Mauro Ghilardini?) Big finish starting at 3:30 with big toms, drums, and organ beneath the soaring electric guitar. Interesting! Nice lead guitar work. (8.5/10)

3. "Atto I, Scena II: Mefistofele (8:55) impressive sound and engineering abounds except for those darned cheap 1990s keyboard synthesizers (like the ones used on COLLAGE's Moonshine). (Those strings are horrid!) But some wonderful singing (by Mauro) and outstanding guitar play from Michele Savoldelli cannot be deterred. The song meanders and sputters a few times. (17.75/20)

4. "Atto I, Scena III: Il Castello (6:52) opens as a bit of a guitar and drum showcase--like Steve Vai and Slim Jim Phantom (Stray Cats) playing off one another--but then devolves into a sensitive theatre piece in the second and third minutes. Some Hackett-like volume pedal work over some cool drum and organ work in the fourth turns into more Vai-like. More great vocal displays from Mauro, as well--much of it bordering on classic Italian lounge singing. (13.25/15)

5. "Atto II, Scena I: Faust (9:49) great music over which Mauro sings in German (which happens to remind me of great SYLVAN lead singer Marco Glühmann). Davide Ferrari supplies the gruff, gravelly voice of Mephistophele. More great guitar work over a bizarre "Peter Gunn" bassline section. Mauro's operatic voice really soars (as does Michele's guitar) fifth and sixth minutes--and again at the end. Love the use of the "harpsichord" in places. (17.75/20)

6. "Atto II, Scena II: La Neve (7:52) opens with a bluesier guitar style over gentler, more emotional music. Singing enters over simple soundscape of acoustic guitar arpeggi, short burst bass riff, and cymbal play, before some of the album's earlier themes begin to pronounce themselves (the bombastic Italian aria from "Bellatrix"). Two male voices trade leads before blending into one harmonized collective at the end of the third minute. Well done. Throughout guitarist Michele Savoldelli acts as the third voice. The voice of "Margaret" joins in for the final third, giving this the complete Italian operatic feel. (13.5/15)

7. "Finale (Ogni Viaggio) (4:17) more narration from Mario Bertasa, this time joined part-way in by computer piano. The real clarinet of Giuseppe Peracchi joins the barrage of cheap computer keyboard strings, etc. in the instrumental second half. Too bad for the cheap computer-generated sounds. (7.75/10)

Total Time: 44:33

Too bad this collective lacked impetus cuz they managed to produce a very impressive product here. Were it not for the terrible sounding keyboards and four minutes of Italian narration, this one might deserve masterpiece status.

B/four stars; an excellent addition to any prog lover's music collection--especially if you love RPI and well-made rock opera formats.

Latest members reviews

4 stars Minstrel's debut album was ambitious, to say at least. A kind of a rock-opera based on Faust, one of the biggest characters in the history of literature. There has been countless other works made on Faust too and this album will off course automatic be judged upon these other Faust works. . ... (read more)

Report this review (#298953) | Posted by toroddfuglesteg | Monday, September 13, 2010 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Absolutely fantastic. 1. Preludio: Italian spoken words open the album, talking generally about the story. Nothing more. Mark: none. 2. Bellatrix: the first true song of the ablum, starts with very soft guitars and Ghilardini's voice, and goes on for about two minutes. Then it stops and ent ... (read more)

Report this review (#263034) | Posted by Propu | Wednesday, January 27, 2010 | Review Permanlink

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