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Marco Baldini: Vesperi

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Marco Baldini: Vesperi
Marco Baldini is the Florence-based composer whose name you might have not come across yet. He will certainly become more well-known thanks to Another Timbre's February 2023 batch of releases, which includes the composer's debut album Vesperi. It consists of eight works, most of which are under a 10-minute mark except a few longer pieces. It also includes a bonus composition "Bicinium" which is only available digitally.

There are a few important things to know about Baldini. Firstly, he barely had any academic training in writing music (just like another hidden gem of Another Timbre's ever-expanding catalogue—Luiz Henrique Yudo). He was at first interested in free and traditional jazz, but as the time went on, his focus shifted towards composed music. And so did his compositional approach which was originally guided by his experiences as a music listener. Most curiously, this change of preference towards composed music was partly instigated by some of Another Timbre's releases. Because of this, it is twice as exciting to listen to his works and see what they have to offer.

The album creates a dark and solemn atmosphere, yet there is stillness wherever you look. It opens up with "Bordone" which does exactly what it says on the tin: two cellos and two double basses use their lowest strings to create uninterrupting murky drones, which much like a black hole seem to swallow everything in their path. This fascination with persevering drones, slowly evolving soundscapes, plain timbres and their unusual combinations is what made this album a suitable candidate for the ever- expanding collection of Another Timbre's releases. The same group of cellos and double basses is used in "Corteccia" which takes some original material from the 16th century Italian composer Francesco Corteccia, reworking it and slowing it down to the extreme. The result is sparse harmonies and contrasting registers creating lush washes of sound fading in and out of our memory. There are two more pieces on this disc—luminous and sanguine "Volta," and spacious "Animuccia"—which rework older 16th- century compositions.

At 17:41, "Trio" is the longest piece on the album written for cello, double bass and marimba. It is precisely the inclusion of marimba which adds the longing instrumental colour to the darker and ceremonious textures of the strings. The duration of the pieces allows the music to build up a more varied structural narrative, and unlike the shorter pieces, it does not simply create a particular sonic ambiance. The same instrumentation is used in "Malkosh" where booming pizzicati resemble huge drums.

It is interesting to see where this takes Baldini and how his style will evolve in the future. This album has managed to capture textures, timbres and harmonies that are satisfying to a curious ear. The music does not pretend to be bigger than what it is; it is full of hope and darkness at the same time, much like the world around us— and this is exactly what makes the music instantly appealing.

Track Listing

Bordone; Trio; Corteccia; Malkosh; Volta; Quartetto; Animuccia; Bicinium.

Personnel

Additional Instrumentation

Luisa Santacesaria: conductor;

Album information

Title: Vesperi | Year Released: 2023 | Record Label: Another Timbre


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