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Dino SALUZZI (b. 1935)
Imágenes (2001) [10:08]
Los Recuerdos (1998) [7:23]
Montañas (1960) [9:16]
Romance (1994) [3:12]
La Casa 13 (2002) [5:45]
Claveles (1984) [6:19]
Moto Perpetuo (2000) [1:03]
Media Noche (1990) [5:50]
Vals Para Verenna (1987) [3:34]
Donde Nací (1990) [6:09]
Horacio Lavandera (piano)
rec. 2013, Rainbow Studio, Oslo
ECM NEW SERIES 2379 [59:08]

Dino Saluzzi’s music is of that boundary-blurring kind that can see him crop up as easily in the jazz section of your review site without being typical of the genre (review). Saluzzi is a master of the bandoneon but has long been writing for other instruments. This programme of premiere recordings of his pieces for piano was composed between 1960 and 2002 and in a variety of places including Buenos Aires and Stuttgart.

Argentinean pianist Horacio Lavandera has studied with Maurizio Pollini and Charles Rosen, sharpening his contemporary music skills in collaborations with Pierre Boulez, Karlheinz Stockhausen and Mauricio Kagel. These recordings were made under the supervision of the composer, and the album is issued in time for Dino Saluzzi’s 80th birthday on 20 May 2015.

The title track Imágenes is one of the most wide-ranging pieces here, opening with cinematic romanticism but developing weighty textures and passing through some magically atmospheric sections. There's even one, from 4:22 with a kind of late Mahlerian severity in its slowly unfolding theme and counterpoint. This sharply etched and almost atonal linearity is carried through into Los Recuerdos, into which moments of resolution and salon lushness are thrown in until the pianistic gestures take over.

Saluzzi’s piano music embraces abstract rumination, placing strange enquiries against more familiar areas of technique or harmony with freedom and a kind of implacable poetic logic. The booklet notes mention how “Dino never allows himself to become trapped into one aesthetic; he is always somewhere unexpected.” This unexpectedness might easily have resulted in music that is frustrating to hear, but in Saluzzi’s case there are elements of narrative and qualities of sequence and progression that hold together even the most sparsely notated and drawn-out pieces, such as the vast Montañas that ultimately resolves into an uneasy lyricism.

Even where more tender emotions are touched upon in something like the beautiful Romance, there are those ‘unexpected’ elements that lift the music beyond sentimentality. There is a singing quality to much of this music, and you can sometimes sense Saluzzi relishing the freedom of the piano keyboard while hearing the voice of his bandoneon. Moto Perpetuo is in a welcome up-beat tempo and is all too brief. If there is a criticism to be made then it may be that the reflective mood of the majority of this music leads to an overdose of introversion.

Each piece does have its own individual character however, and everyone will be able to pick out their own favourites. I like the slow Vals Para Verenna and the close harmonies and melodic wanderings of Claveles, but there are special things to be found throughout this album. The overall effect is one which will fill your sultry late nights with an elegant sufficiency of richly recorded pianistic moods, and that “sense of encountering what is most profound and essential in each of us.”

Dominy Clements



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