Ariondela, translated as a mallow or hibiscus plant, is a female a-cappella trio from the Piedmont of northern Italy, initially familiar for their backing performances on La Piva dal Carner's 1997 "M'han Presa" recording. Their material is based upon traditional regional sources, spanning Italian, French, and local dialects, accented with lively, idiosyncratic arrangements, and supplemented by the charming and witty compositions of Maria Adelaide Negrin, one of the singers.
The best tracks are or contain Negrin compositions. In "Le premier jour du mois d'avril / Scottish / Bourée," two voices provide galloping backdrop to a traditional tale of a wounded soldier, seamlessly interspersed with a pair of inventive, complementary Negrin skat compositions, with the bourée a remarkably bright waltz. "Bagna Caoda calypso dixie" starts with vinyl scratch and thirties jazz singing, fades into a lively a-cappella recipe, and reprises its jazzy intro with scat percussion.
Ariondela seems to be continually winking coyly from the speakers, while presenting arrangements so clear that each of the three voices can be plainly identified. - Jim Foley
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