Osvaldo COLUCCINO (b.1963)
Gemina, for violin and piano (2002) [3:24]
Cenere, for flute and piano (2005) [5:23]
Giano (2009), for violin and viola (2009) [2:12]
Stati, for contralto flute and guitar (2006) [5:45]
Talea, for violin and cello (2008) [4:51]
Appulso, for B flat clarinet and tenor saxophone (2008) [6:22]
Specchio, for cello and piano (2008) [3:52]
Stigma, for trombone and electronics (2008) [3:52]
Gianluca Turconi (violin), Marco Sala (piano)
Giampaolo Pretto (flute), Marino Nicolini (piano)
Gianluca Turconi (violin), Andrea Repetto (viola)
Daniela Cima (contralto flute), Leopoldo Saracino (guitar)
Umberto Fantini (violin), Manuel Zigante (cello)
Enrico Maria Baroni (B flat clarinet), Mario Marzi (tenor saxophone)
Manuel Zigante (cello), Marino Nicolini (piano)
Fabio Sampò (trombone), Osvaldo Coluccino (electronics)
rec. Sala Barocca, SMC Studio, Ivrea, Italy, 2008-9. DDD

Those familiar with Coluccino's recent CD of 'string quartets' - see review - will be well prepared for this collection of chamber pieces. These short pieces for eight different kinds of duo are not destined for the ears of those requiring their music to have tunes in it, nor indeed for those unwilling or unable to apply considerable concentration to their listening.
The works, all dating from the last decade, are each cut from similar cloth: they are concise, ethereal, viscous and virtuosic. Their meditative, generally fragmentary nature renders them also more or less inscrutable. Notes and a biography of Coluccino are included with the glossy digipak, printed straight onto the card, but only those who read Italian will make anything of the texts. Even then, as far as the notes are concerned, intelligibility is far from guaranteed, as Coluccino writes in a rather arcane academic language. Some background information on the composer can be had in English here, on the website of Another Timbre, who recently issued a disc of acoustically experimental works by him. The fact remains though that there is no obvious way to uncover any contextualisation or what the composer's intentions were for 'Gemina' - Coluccino is of that dying breed without a personal website. For all that, these pieces are not totally inaccessible, certainly not to anyone with a penchant for Webern, who may recognise in Coluccino a distant but kindred cousin.
Audio quality is very good, though recording levels are not entirely ideal - all tracks seem to have used the same settings, meaning that, to accommodate the bursts of forte sound in one or two pieces, those tracks with a steady low volume tend towards the inaudible at the same level - Talea, most notably. A twist of the volume button will temporarily right these wrongs, however.
A running time of 36 minutes at more or less full price does not cry out "Bargain!", and in these economically straitened times Gemina may not easily find a willing market. Factor in the complex nature of Coluccino's writing and it might be ventured that this disc would have fared much better fifty years ago. Nonetheless, there remains, thankfully, a small number of music-lovers who can and will appreciate this provocative kind of modernism/post-modernism, and some of them will be able to afford this disc - assuming they can find a stockist: Soundohm.com, for one. With the bonus of a full complement of impressively virtuosic performances included, they should buy it.
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Concise, ethereal, viscous, virtuosic … more or less inscrutable.