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Antimo MAGNOTTA (b. 1972)
Inner Landscape
Sofia [4:17]
Where is Everybody? [6:01]
Open Waters [5:17]
Seven Short Blasts and One Long [2:12]
Abandon the Ship [3:28]
The Crossing [4:42]
I’m Alive [1:56]
The Island [4:55]
Thirtytwo [1:30]
Losing Myself [6:04]
Antimo Magnotta (piano)
rec. 2018, Amarcord Studio, Marigliano, Italy
Private release [40:30]

Antimo Magnotta, born near Naples, was the pianist in the band that played on the cruise liner Costa Concordia that ran aground off the coast of Isola del Giglio near Tuscany on 13 January 2012. Despite a substantial six-hour rescue operation, 32 people drowned and amongst that number were two of his fellow musicians. He has been interviewed about the traumatic experience of that day and admitted that he didn’t want to play the piano and only a process of re-learning has enabled him to come to terms with elements of that day. He moved to London the year afterwards becoming a resident pianist at The Gamble Room at the Victoria and Albert Museum and his album Inner Landscape is a music cycle inspired by his thoughts after the accident.

This, then, is a process of catharsis, offering solace. It is different from, but perhaps in some way related to, what James Rhodes has said about the processes of healing inherent in music-making. It has also enabled Magnotta to crystallise his memories and thoughts of that day in a kind of chronological narrative. These solo piano pieces are intended to offer the restorative power of art and to demonstrate the resilience of the human spirit, as he writes in the very brief notes to this self-produced album.

His musical means do vary but they are essentially aligned to what one can call the repetitive patterned aspects of things; Nyman’s The Piano with an admixture of Einaudi in the more romantic moments. Thinking of one of his daughters, Sofia, in that moment of crisis has inspired those repeating left-hand figures over which the right spins reflective, romantic tracery. Where is Everybody encodes a slower section and a throat-tightening pause, possibly reflective of the bewildered panic experienced but he can be quietly descriptive when necessary. Seven Short Blasts and One Long is fairly straightforward and refers to the emergency alarm, with the piece ending on that long, sustained blast, though it too conforms to the minimalist-romanticist direction of the music. I’m Alive opens haltingly, as if disbelieving the evidence of Magnotta’s own experience, that he survived when others died, before opening out into flowing patterns once again. The Island offers slow moving chords and a sense of space, a time for reflection before a resumption of romanticist patterns once again. Thirtytwo is his direct tribute to those who died, a compact salute. Losing Myself, the final track, suggests in its opening – tentative, directionless, fragmentary – how Magnotta had to overcome these experiences to rebuild his pianistic mechanism and indeed himself; thus it develops a growing amplitude of expression and a sense of romanticism, fractured briefly by moments of self-doubt, but that suggest the new life ahead for him and the rekindling of his love of the piano, of music, and of composition.

His compositional palette is perhaps circumscribed, but that is the case with numerous others. This is a case of art meeting disaster and, after paralysis and despair, triumphing.

Jonathan Woolf

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