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Monday, December 22, 2008

Nicola Cipani - The Ill-Tempered Piano (Long Song Records, 2008) ***½

Now this is a strange album, but one with a special charm. Swiss-born, Italian-raised, German-educated and US-based classical philologist Nicola Cipani looked for untuned, damaged, broken and almost unrecognizable pianos in the New York area for two years. After getting acquainted with each instrument's specific ailments and shortcomings, he still tried to play some music on it, without altering the instrument of course. In some cases percussion is the only result, but more often than not the results are interesting, if not great fun or totally captivating. The sounds are weird, bizarre, but very musical. It is not avant-garde, maybe in its approach, but certainly not in the delivery, because Cipani tries, with the limited means the instruments offer, to still create something like a tune, a rhythm, structure, emotional expression. Sometimes Tom Waits comes to mind, but then without the vocals. Cipani's universe is harsh, tough, but full of humanity and surely, with a great heart for those abandoned instruments. If they were animate (and they surely still sound alive, although some not too much), these instruments must have rejoiced by the totally unexpected attention they got, and the vision of this musician to still make them shine, probably just one more time, one last time, ...

© stef