GIOVANNI DI DOMENICO – Musica Per Insiemi

Blacksweat

There must be a method to Giovanni Di Domenico‘s creative fecundity, although I have yet to understand which. This gentleman’s intermittent hyperactivity might perplex those not keeping the pace with his numerous solo and collaborative projects across divergent fields. However, very rarely Di Domenico’s output falls below the absolutely decent-to-excellent level. Among the handful of recent releases by the Brussels-based Roman pianist and composer, Musica Per Insiemi is the one I listened to first. It’s inexorably capturing my heart, little by little. Let’s see why.

Conceived in 2018 for separate reasons (a commission by Ars Musica Festival and a residency), three tracks shape this charming work. “Kyu-u-ri”, born from near-silence, evolves through atmospheres between serene and melancholic, typified by slow movements sounding rather unpremeditated in spite of a meticulous arrangement. The mnemonic prevalence of the piano, either in cascading arpeggio or in scattered touches, should not make forget the enjoyment of orchestral passages rich in relatively consonant pathos, but never bordering on syrupy.

The minimal string motion of “Go-bo” would initially appear to hint at selected Wim Mertens pages. In fact, that is not the case. We are soon contradicted by a quite solid droning fabric, repeatedly sheltering the original thematic fragment in diverse contrapuntal contexts. Environmental chiaroscuro, anomalous resonances and dissonant doubts are skilfully immersed in emotional fragility, the whole undoubtedly enhanced by the sensitivity of the performers (here a detailed list). It’s hard not to imagine an intense choreography linked to this impressive piece, obviously the program’s finest.

The self-explanatory “Slides” juxtaposes a somewhat Terry Riley-ish organ with female voices drawing choral parabolas. Billions of questions remain suspended in the ether in this day and age; many of them will not receive an answer. A responsive musician can nevertheless identify the consequences of every human gesture, attempting to photograph for the last time the rippling waters of an erstwhile balance. Di Domenico leaves us pondering in uncertainty, despite the apparent tranquillity. The importance of “now”, as opposed to a “maybe later” that insightful beings don’t even take into account, is primary. Hereafter delusions, low-budget psychotropic drugs for people incapable of coping with the present.

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