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Nocturnes
see track listing below review
Giorgio Mirto (guitar)
rec. November 2011 and January 2012, Casa Sonora studios, Grugliasco, Italy. DDD.
BRILLIANT CLASSICS 9258 [63:10] 

Imagine a room lit by a fireplace. It is dark, but in a cozy not scary way. The fire dances and the shadows move and form weird images and shapes on the walls. The entire room is filled by the sound of a guitar. This sound is remarkably resonant. Every note seems to create a broad halo around it; these linger in the air and merging create haunting harmonies. The music is not familiar but beautiful. Each piece has a different face and makes a different impression: the many shades of the evening mood.
 
These are all Nocturnes in that they create a nocturnal atmosphere, but without a nod to Chopin or Field. Actually, musically they are much closer to Villa-Lobos - think, for example, of the Brazilian composer’s five Preludes for guitar. There is no sadness, but a dreamy relaxation: you come home tired, you sit in a comfortable armchair, submerge into the twilight world and watch the play of the shadows. The recording is very close and resonant, which practically puts the listener inside the sound and increases this personal connection.
 
Giorgio Mirto opens the disc with three Nocturnes composed by himself: apparently, he is an interesting and skilled composer. The three pieces are multi-layered and ballad-like. They evoke a series of images - maybe stories, maybe memories. There are stimulating harmonic progressions and memorable motifs, but above all, there is music, which goes beyond the simple building blocks of melody, rhythm or harmony.
 
This is also true of other works on the album. Most pieces are painted in a cold and dark palette. After Torresan’s bittersweet Notturno come two pieces by Manca, each sad and a little depressive. Di Salvo’s Penelope beautifully conveys the feeling of long sleepless waiting. Ninna nanna a Donegal is a luminous lullaby, full of love. The melody and the accompaniment are simple and endearing. La colline di Karen is a slow, atmospheric, Debussian half-waltz.
 
Albini’s Corale is all about harmony. With its nervously throbbing pulse, it could be one of Bach’s WTC preludes. From Pujol we have a sad, fado-like song, static and reflective. Lasala’s Nocturno brings us to the same night garden where Debussy has walked in the moonlight. All is quiet - all is good. The music swings slowly, like a leisurely pendulum.
 
Rózsa’s Valse crepusculaire is a dreamy, wistful waltz, with an instantly memorable melody. It creates thoughts about sitting near a campfire in the night woods with the smoke rising to the tree tops. The sparks fly and fade, and there’s a vast brooding presence. Finally we arrive at York’s Into dark. We are sleepy and so is the music. The fire is dying in the fireplace, the cinders glow, the darkness quietly and comfortably comes closer. We’ll go to bed now, and all will be good. The music calmly fades away.
 
The performance is inspired. Mirto applies light rubato very naturally, and his dynamic gradations are well calculated. His touch is soft yet strong, and his manner of sound-producing is truly singing. The guitar’s voice is sonorous, without the wooden dryness. There are no micro-delays in front of difficult chords. My only complaint is about the occasional extra-musical sounds produced when the guitarist moves his fingers along the strings - these little shrieks and squeaks and hisses are annoying. They are not too distracting, yet noticeable. The sound is very full, sometimes organ-like. The acoustic fullness and closeness creates the impression of almost touching the strings.
 
This is a lovely disc. Trying to put it into “background” mode regularly failed: I dropped the stuff I was doing and sat to listen. When it was over, the “Repeat” button was always there to help. 

Oleg Ledeniov 

Track listing
Giorgio MIRTO
(b.1972)
Three Nocturnes [15:27]
Livio TORRESAN (b.1956)
Notturno [5:02]
Roberto MANCA (b.1963)
Notturno No.3 [4:14]
Ulisse [2:46]
Rosolino DI SALVO (b.1970)
La notte di Penelope [5:33]
Giorgio SIGNORILE (b.1962)
Ninna nanna a Donegal [4:41]
La colline di Karen, notturno africano [4:16]
Giovanni ALBINI (b.1982)
Corale No.45, notturno [5:37]
Máximo Diego PUJOL (b.1957)
Nocturno [4:09]
Angel E. LASALA (1914-2000)
Nocturno [3:48]
Miklós RÓZSA (1907-1995)
Valse crepusculaire [4:25]
Andrew YORK (b.1958)
Into dark [2:38]

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