I love music.

I write about the music I like and have purchased for the benefit of better understanding it and sharing my preferences with others.

Stories of Napoli

Singer Macro Beasley has released an album with Accordone of music from Naples. I spied it recently while in a FNAC in Lyon, France. I had admired Beasley's singing as part of his work with L'Arpeggiata; I knew very little of what to expect in this release, but for some reason the album caught my eye and I said "Why not?" The sound world is certainly from the inspiration of L'Arpeggiata; baroque instruments are used in the beginning, but the pieces don't all belong in this sound world; some approach a folksy sound, but by the end, I'm not sure you're going to care. A piece like care e la rosa is a gentle one, sung with simple continuo and voice. It's a fantastic contrast to the drums that better define the ensemble's acoustic space with In galera li pantettieri. Harpsichord and bowed strings come to the rescue of pastoral charm in the Serenata. But the masterpiece is entitled Cicerenella, which opens with solo harpsichord. Then from no where, a galloping ensemble emerges, with plucked instruments, violin, percussion, backup singers (think of them as a street gang hanging out in the sides of a beautiful acoustic space), with Beasley front and center with the vocal fireworks, a dirty exercise in fast pronunciation (a tongue twister for sure!). The style is so suave and sassy, it's so much fun. You'll be grabbing for your remote to put this on for more than one run, I am sure. The same style comes back later in a tarantella. A few more pieces follow, with pairs of violins... Then we get Caruso, that opens with a piano. Beasley now sounds amplified with a jazz club microphone; it's a stark contrast for sure, if you're the kind of listener who favors the shuffle function of your player. I don't much care for the combination of styles and time periods, but Beasley is a tasteful musician, and has chosen good music, no matter when it was written. Reginella employs a modern-sounding guitar; Mazza, pezza e pizzo too, although the cavalcade of vocal styles might better place the piece in a comedic musical. The final track, Stella Diana, opens with Beasley in a solo vocalese; it brings us full circle; the sound is ancient, next is spoken text, a prayer for Naples. Picture the city, as best you can, at night, under stars... Storie is about Beasley's city, and the music becomes richer when we know the texts. Despite traversing time, I think the musicians do a good job at adapting while maintaining their theme centered around a city. It's not a typical album, for sure, and while I think it takes some cues from Christina Pluhar's "programs" with concerts and CDs, it's probably not at her same level. That said, I'm pleased with blindly picking up a CD on vacation. I have not been to Naples, but this CD is like a beloved postcard you'd frame and cherish.

Veracini - Sonate a violino solo e basso

Biber's 1681 Sonatas by Letzbor & Ars Antiqua