1. La sagra di Paolòpoli
2. Elena e il suo violino
3. Prima o poi io e te faremo l'amore
5. I viaggi di Gulliver
6. Anema e core
7. 17 ore
8. Il barbone di Siviglia
9. Comunicazioni interrotte
10. Natale in casa Cappelli
11. L'orchestra del Titanic
Stefano Bollani – Piano
Lello Pareti – Bass
Walter Paoli - Drums, percussion
Riccardo Onori – Guitar
Antonello Salis - Accordion
I only encountered Italian pianist Stefano Bollani in 2008, when I was deeply impressed by an album of his duets with Enrico Rava.
That was apparently some years after this album was recorded which, if my slender grasp of Italian is correct, was released in 1999. I’m not sure why it
has been made available again now, but I’m very glad it has.
I suspect the album was inspired by the 1997 film Titanic. Bollani’s quintet doesn’t play the music that was supposedly played by the band on the
Titanic as it sank but Stefano recreates the atmosphere of a comfortable lounge where guests are entertained by a small orchestra. The music is not only
entertaining but varied and richly melodic. Stefano wrote most of the pieces himself, and they reveal him as a very talented composer.
The very first track has a jaunty melody which Bollani’s piano makes the most
of. Antonello Salis’s accordion enriches the mix in the poignant Elena
e il suo violin. Prima o poi io e te faremo l'amore
is another gentle ballad where the accordion again makes a tuneful
contribution. Antonello tends to hum along with his accordion, rather
like Slam Stewart doing the same with the double bass. This tendency
is particularly marked in Lello Pareti’s Natale in casa Cappelli.
Two of the non-originals on the album reflect Stefano Bollani’s interest in Italian folk and popular song. Domenico Modugno’s Piove (“It’s
raining”) was a Eurovision entry in 1959 and Stefano performs it here as a piano solo. Anema e core (“Heart and soul”) is a familiar Neapolitan
song which was adapted into English with several different titles.
I viaggi di Gulliver
is a dynamic mix which hints at the avant-garde with rock guitar and occasionally discordant piano and accordion. 17 ore includes a wondrously
lyrical piano solo from Bollani. Il barbone di Siviglia has another sparkling piano solo and the group stokes up an exciting rhythm with vigorous
drumming by Walter Paoli.
Comunicazioni interrotte is a pensive duet for piano and guitar.
The album ends with the title-track, whose scratchy sound resembles
an old 78-rpm disc, with ethereal guitar and honky-tonk piano playing
over an increasingly disjointed beat. Perhaps it is a tribute to that
brave band of musicians who continued playing while the Titanic sank.
Stefano Bollani seems to be a limitless source of fascinating music: long may he continue!