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Paolo UGOLETTI (b. 1956)
Concerto for accordion, guitar and string orchestra (2009) [20:55]
Emily Dickinson Arias (2010) [26:54]
Gino Zambelli (accordion), Giulio Tampalini (guitar); Lin Ling Hui (soprano)
Orchestra da Camera di Brescia/Filippo Lama
rec. 5-7 May 2012, Cavalli Music Hall, Castrezzato, Brescia.

Paolo Ugoletti was born in Brescia, known as the 'Leonessa d'Italia', 1956. He has an interdisciplinary approach to composition - since 2003 Ugoletti has been collaborating with the painter Rinaldo Turati, realising the soundtracks for his exhibitions. Interestingly, the 'strength' and 'warmth' of traditional Irish music emerging from Ugoletti's studies in the 1990s has tinted the two works heard here with a rich Celtic glow.

Along with his knack for allowing the character of the instrument to emerge, the Concerto for accordion, guitar and string orchestra is a musky, aromatic piece of contesting and complementary fragrances; it both challenges and appeases our senses. An element of Astor Piazzolla with its timbre of Latin American rhythms can be heard. That said, this music is altogether more suave, aided by the string section, and less rustic. Divided into three movements - quick-slow-quick - this composition is one in which the solo instruments overlap and interrelate in an almost call-and-response manner throughout. In the first movement the expressively played guitar has a seemingly perfunctory role, keeping the beat. The intertwining accordion and orchestra are layered on with precision. In the second movement the accordion is more dominant and takes the melody whilst the guitar - now plucking arpeggios rather than strumming chords - and strings accompany. The third movement is gripping and exciting: the accordion and guitar echo one another. Rhythms are complex and the slower harmonic modifications allow the piece to coalesce, ultimately relating it to the earlier movements. Careful not to overpower the guitar, Zambelli - heralded by Amadeus magazine as 'one of the best talents of the new Italian accordion school' - carefully laces the tenderly and passionately played final guitar solo with his musical responses.

Ugoletti is often inspired by the nineteenth century American poet Emily Dickinson whose life and works are awash with nervous energy emanating out of a transcendentalist context. The Emily Dickinson Arias are piercingly introspective, spiritually awakening and enlightening. This music is in an unmistakably Dickinson style so that poetry and music seem intimately part of our very being. As Shelley asked: 'Are we not formed, as notes of music are, / For one another, though dissimilar?' Indeed, in each of these pieces, the musicians seem acutely aware of Ugoletti's and Dickinson's formal symmetry juxtaposed with the notion of the fragment. In Dying at my music! Lin Ling Hui, velvety and warm of voice, blends the longing, expectant waiting ('Hold me till the Octave's run!') with a sudden urgency and release ('Quick! Burst the Windows!'). The opening string section for It rises creates a mystical, solitary sound-space that is quintessentially Dickinson in style and feeling. Hui adds warmth and character to such desolate music, though does not overwhelm or smother the simplicity and initial unease evoked in the image of the sun slowly rising. A mixture of confinement, spontaneity and release, these songs are fascinating glimpses into the place between poetry and music; the hub of creativity. Finishing with the outcry 'Soft' from Soft as the massacre of Suns, these pieces are both barren and bursting with life; tying these two strands together with seamless ease. These songs are recommended listening and are inimitably individual works.

Lucy Jeffery