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Höstsonaten - Symphony N.1 - Cupid & Psyche CD (album) cover




Rock Progressivo Italiano

3.88 | 141 ratings

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4 stars If there is any doubt about Fabio Zuffanti being a prog icon, the disbelievers have some kind of chip on their shoulder! This gifted Italian bassist/composer owns a distinguished career one could only dream about, fronting Finisterre back in the late 90s, recharging the dormant RPI School once so prolific in the 70s and then consolidating the legacy with the splendid La Maschera di Cera project. His list of contributions and projects is endless but there was one project that simply just took off like wildfire, Hostsonaten having begun its life as a one shot self-titled endeavour in 1997, drawing universally positive reviews. The four seasons on four separate albums was a veritable tour de force, a modern day Giuseppe Verdi. Both 'Winterthrough' and 'Summereve' were spectacular classics, while 'Springsongs' and 'Autumn Symphony' were totally tasty in their own right. The chemistry has evolved around the keyboard chair with first Boris Valle, then Roberto Viggo, Agostino Macor and now Luca Scherani, all extremely talented keyboardists that have the talent to imprint fresh symphonic ideas into the creative process. Thus the impetus to continue creating lavish works remains invigorated and positive.

The main theme here is decidedly neo-classical , aided by an outright string quartet section, some brass and woodwinds in full regalia, all determined to elevate the arrangements to new heights. On the windswept 'Zephyr', the spirited musicians adopt a sterling vibe full of immense bravado and delirium, highlighted by drummer Paolo Tixi killing it on the skins while Scherani molests his synths with passionate resolve. Italy is the home of romanticism, a mindset splattered all over their glorious culture and when 'amore' becomes the focus, the artful methodology comes oh so naturally, as on the palpitating 'Love Scene', featuring profound emotion (as the gifted Laura Marsano rips off another seductive axe solo), a truly magnificent piece of solemn beauty, allied with some reflective piano and delicate flute. Things do get dissonant and complex with whipping mellotron blasts rivaling the brass section in a stop and go dance that defies logic and suddenly gets real hot under the collar, swerving into very orchestral realms that are insistent, jangled and grandiose. Sofia Bartolini's obsessive bassoon does wonders weaving between Scherani's various ivories, furthered along by Joanne Roan's magical flute. On 'Venus First Trial', the mood is very classical orchestra that slowly veers towards a more rock approach, colossal mellotron waves smashing into the electric guitar, strong brass support and the spotlight rests on some stellar sax work that recalls Traffic's Chris Wood on 'Glad'. This endless ebb and flow between classical music in the shape of string quartet and piano on one hand and the more pugnacious RPI delivery led by strong rhythmic work and searing soloing from both electronic keyboards and electric guitars is what makes this work so compelling. Things also get funky with Scherani's e-piano, linked with some judicious brass work and tick-tack drum patterns, proving that these musicians know a thing or two about soul and feeling. Then having the smarts to blend in both mellotrons and orchestra proves my point perfectly. Then letting Marsano have some bluesy fun on her sexy guitar pushes the pleasure level even higher, keeping the listener constantly stimulated. Then giving the spotlight on Scherani to delve into his keyboard arsenal and let his fingers do the walking and talking ('The Awakening'), playing dipsy-doodle with an errant oboe before laying down some heady cascades of 'tron. A perfect example of instrumental symphonic RPI prog !

Another stellar chapter in the ongoing Hostsonaten discography, a step up from the previous 'The Rime of the Ancient Mariner', we are witness to a slew of incredibly gifted musicians enjoying the style they so obviously adore.

4.5 troubled cherubs

tszirmay | 4/5 |


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