Betti Zambruno & Bärtavela
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Betti Zambruno & Bärtavela
Canté Bergera

FolkClub Ethnosuoni

cd cover This record is a wonderful idea: Betti Zambruno sings and Bärtavela play strings and percussion, interpreting traditional ballads and songs from the land of Piedmont, the Italian region on the French border.

Zambruno's voice is warm, mature, clear and so downright beautiful it attracts the listener's attention and never gives up. This is balanced by the dynamics of the strings. At first you expect the usual traditional instruments, but once you are over that expectation, you cannot but marvel at the coherence of the sound produced - something that has a lot to do with Bruno Raiteri's and Maurizio Martinotti's sympathetic arrangements.

The songs themselves come from a repertoire amassed by Teresa Viarengo, more than 300 ballads and songs in all. The subjects of the ballads all have to do with women and girls in various circumstances, ranging from love and poverty to war, marriage and death (mostly of the unnatural kind) and from all social groups.

The booklet is trilingual, in English, Italian and Piemontèise, the local dialect. The songs are preceeded by a small preview of the plot, although the lyrics themselves are not translated.

Again against expectation, the music is not sombre; the arrangements retain the structure of the traditional songs, even as they are transcribed to a more formal medium. It's quite close to composers like Bartok and Skalkotas, approaching traditional music from a classical perspective, and yet the sound is completely contemporary, a servant to the music and not used to glorify the arrangers or the players.

The result is an intriguing, soothing and enchanting record with a solemn, grandiose air that feels quite appropriate. - Nondas Kitsos

Audio (p)(c)2002 Folk Club Ethnosuoni, used by permission

CD available at cdRoots

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