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Marco Colonna: The Second Coming

Daniel Barbiero By

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In improvised music no less than in composed classical music, the period from the 1950s forward has seen the invention and development of new and expansive instrumental techniques. Along with the expansion of technical resources has come a corresponding evolution of musical poetics grounded in the idea that performance techniques and gestures, when engaged with a certain degree of self-consciousness, can serve as the fundamental material basis for an expressive musicality. Such is the case with the music of The Second Coming, a solo recording from Roman multi-reedist Marco Colonna.

Although Colonna has played in several types of formats—duos, trios and quartets—the solo performance seems particularly well-suited to bringing out the deeper implications, both musical and technical, of his work. And certainly Colonna seems to understand this: The Second Coming follows a succession of challenging solo recordings that include Folias (2016), Sketches for Victor Jara (2018), and Ondas de Trigu (2017), all self prduced. As these recordings demonstrate, Colonna is one of those artists who over time have been concerned with building a poetics of technique; for him extreme techniques, while being a focus of interest in themselves, ultimately are there to communicate emotional urgency as directly as possible.

On The Second Coming Colonna limits himself to two instruments: clarinet and bass clarinet. The relative simplicity of focusing on two instruments in solo performance throws a sharp, clear light on how he leverages their resources in the service of a highly personal musical language. This latter is constructed out of a vocabulary of carefully cultivated gestures which he foregrounds, varies and develops both separately and in connection with each other. On pieces like "Under Pressure," "Dust," "Lips" and "Masque" Colonna lays bare the role of breath in producing sound in a wind instrument, crystallizing its presence through changes in air pressure and dynamics, using it in conjunction with the instrument to mimic white noise, or shaving it off into a hiss. On "Skull," he sends vocal cries resounding through the clarinet's hollow tube, gradually drawing the sound out into rich multiphonics. Multiphonics are in fact an important element in this music, whether sustained horizontally through circular breathing on "Inside," or built vertically into chords on "Triad."

On all nine of the album's tracks Colonna ably demonstrates that the supposed antinomy between technique and expression is a false one; in his hands technique just is expression, and expression technique.

Track Listing: Under Pressure; Dust; Subinterference; Skull; Lips; Inside; Masque; Questionable; Triads.

Personnel: Marco Colonna: clarinet, bass clarinet.

Title: The Second Coming | Year Released: 2019 | Record Label: Plus Timbre

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