What musical imagery comes to mind when you think of the accordian? Whatever your thoughts, you had better sit down when you listen to accordionist Richard Galliano's latest CD, Passatori. Backed by the Toscana orchestra, Galliano performs a progam of self-penned originals, as well as two compositions by the world-renown master of the bandoneon, Astor Piazzolla. The series of compositions on this disc range from romantic ballads to up-tempo, extended compositions that are representative of twentieth century romanticism, but incorporating segments within the pieces, where Galliano is prominently featured as an improvisor. Some of the charts are extremely intricate, employing frequent tempo and meter changes, and utilizing dense, beautifully dissonant harmonies. When listening to this CD, try to forget that Galliano is playing an accordion, and just listen. His instrument sounds like a fantastic combination of an organ, clarinet, and harmonica, and he plays with a facility that is uncommon- if seemingly impossible on such an instrument.
The set kicks of with Opale Concerto , a up-tempo piece that is fully realized in terms of modern composition; employing meter shifts, upward and downward spirals, and interesting harmonic twists and turns. A good deal of dissonance is created by having the ensemble voices outline a series of maj7b5 chords ascending in fourths. Oblivion is a beautiful minor ballad which features the melancholic accordion of Galliano quite well, while the South American-tinged Harbanerando with it's repeating ostinato bass figure, is full of emotion, intrigue, and mystery. However, the real gem on this disc was saved for last: the three-part Astor Piazzolla composition Concerto pour Bandoneon. This beautifully rendered version is diligently carried forth by Galliano and company, who skillfully embellish the intricacies within the work. The composition itself is firmly rooted in late romantisicm, yet looks ahead to later styles found in twentieth century music. The last movement of this piece gives Galliano a chance to engage in some pure, unadulterated improvisation, before the ensemble once again takes over the helm, ending in an impassioned cadence. Fans of the accordian and bandoneon will want to check this CD out. ***½ stars
Track listing:Opale Concerto; Oblivion; San Peyre; La Valse a Margaux; Melodicelli; Habanerando; Concerto pour Bandoneon
Personnel: Richard Galliano(accordion, bandoneon); Andrea Tacchi, Francesco Di Cuonzo, Chiara Foletto, Paolo Gaiani, Susana Pasquariello, Alessandro Giani (violin); Riccardo Masi, Pierpaolo (viola); Giovanni Bacchelli, Christine Dechaux (cello); Giampietro Zampella (bass); Cinzia Conte (harp); Stefano Bollani (piano); Morgan M. Tortelli, Jonathan Faralli (percussion)