Filippo Gambetta
Dunya/Felmay 2000 (

cd cover At first it sounds as if Italian melodeon player Filippo Gambetta is bent on delivering merely pleasant, albeit flawlessly executed, traditional instrumentals. But the appealing inventiveness of Gambetta's original compositions on Stria soon becomes apparent. Gambetta and his three partners, celloist Mariana Carli, violinist Francesco Denini, and guitarist Claudio de Angeli plainly conceive of themselves as a chamber quartet, proud of traditional roots yet compelled to express them with a modern industrial glint. Hints of dissonance coexist with sweet melodies, or sometimes shoulder them aside for a time before ultimately relinquishing control. The segues are so artfully executed that stylistic frontiers become blurry.

"Quattro Salti / Gankino Horo"
The opening track, "Gnicche Gnicche," illustrates this stratagem aptly, beginning with acoustic guitar strumming a light challenging beat that seems to fall forever forward, off balance, the melodeon offering a spritely melody with happily grumbling cello echoes, breaking into a quick jazzy beat with melodeon and strings fugueing furiously before lapsing into spacy violin slides, finally returning to the signature guitar strum. "Quattro Salti / Gankino Horo" is a different sort of eclectic triumph. From an accordion drone and quiet violin figure it builds into a pulsing 7/8 beat, guitar providing strummed grounding, violin and melodeon swirling around each other's melodic lines. Gambetta uses the expressive range of the bellows especially adroitly in this section, which soon breaks into a dizzying 11/8 horo with a brief but compelling cello and percussion break, before returning to the framing drone and violin figure, receding into the aural distance as a dijeridoo drones. "Adele Blanc-Sec / Mazurka Rigal" kicks off with a rousing ghironda (hurdy-gurdy) processional with clarinet and string accompaniment in calm counterpoint as the main figure continuously accelerates, before transforming into a brisk, jazzy waltz on melodeon with dramatic climaxes on cello.

The compositions and performances on Stria are nuanced and complex, successfully integrating unlikely influences, continually revealing new pleasures. - Jim Foley

CD available at cdRoots

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