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Antonello Paliotti Trio
Tarantella Storta
Dunya/Felmay (

Guitarist Paliotti and his trio take a chamber music approach to traditional Italian folk genres such as the tarantella, moresca, and serenata. Their sound is delicate and well defined, with finely crafted intersecting lines and inventive, ever-shifting tonalities. A baroque sensibility is evident in the counterpoint and gentle rhythmic push of tunes such as "Introduzione e danza del Gargano" and "Variazioni sul Guarracino." Mauro Squillante's mandolin is sparkling and romantic, while Leonardo Massa's cello adds just enough gravity to keep things down to earth. Just when you think they're about to send the schmaltz-o-meter into the red, as with the tender "Alghe marine" or the almost-too-romantic "Variazioni su un tema popolare,"
"Tarantella Diritta"
(the "popular theme" being "O Sole Mio") they come back with a no-holds-barred tarantella such as the title track or the Fellini-esque "Pacchianella d'Uttaiano." One of the strongest tracks is the moody, multi-hued "Tarantella Diritta," with its rippling guitar, insistent castanets, and gypsy-informed modalities. With its finely honed technique and graceful execution, the Antonello Paliotti Trio has a sound that will appeal to fans of classical, jazz, and folk music alike. - Peggy Latkovic

More audio samples and CD available atcdRoots

(audio ©2001 Dunya/Felmay and A. Paliotti, used by express permission)

In the artist's own words:
"The tarantella is a typical dance from Southern Italy about which we all have something more or less imprecise to tell. It is a possession dance and some see it as having therapeutic and thaumaturgic qualities, connected with the tarantula's bite. We know from the very popular iconography related to the tarantella, that it was basically executed by a violin and a colascione, playing the bass. These two instruments would usually accompany one or more couples of dancers provided with castanets; the number of variants is infinite: there exists a simple tarantella, and a complicated one, danced by two women or two femminielli (transvestites) added to a man and a woman, keeping up the strong sexual element of the game. Afterwards, when a woman took off her shoes, it was a clear sign of her own availability. "The XIXth century has reduced the tarantella - and not only it - to a kind of folk entertainment, depriving it of its magic and ritual connotations. In the best case, some cultured composers as Saint-SaŽns or Liszt, and more recently with Strauss and Stravisnky, took an interest in this dance, but the results were always banal - even if they were elegant and brilliant - and somehow "reassuring". In particular, the cadence of the tempo in 6/8 or in 12/8 does not reflect the tarantella's traditionally practiced tempo, but rather what remains of it in its cultivated transcription.

"In fact, it seems that the tarantella is a 4/4 dance and that the triplets were produced by the soloist's improvisation. Therefore, it is necessary today to break totally with the XIXth century, and to recover, at least, the flavour of this music*, exalting and going deeper in its peculiar aspects, asymmetrical and apparently illogical, to the detriment of those overpolished and puritan of a bourgeois mentality, let's say it openly. Our work on the popular tradition materials must be read in this way: we have intended to maintain the somewhat "disturbing" and esoteric spirit, drawing directly from the oral tradition, that is reinventing a language which cannot take into account the passage, in this day and age of "another" music such as pop music or jazz. We actually know that folk music has always drawn from the widest possible musical forms, appropriating and assimilating them in an extraordinary exercice of generosity. Our reelaboration of songs of the turning point between the XIXth and the XXth centuries follows the same way. In Serenata Napulitana and Variazione su un tema tradizionale we intended to vary freely on the theme, as if it were a jazz standard, beginning however by an improvisation, as was done in the Renaissance, then introducing the theme which becomes a pretext for a fuller elaboration, be it harmonic or melodic. At last, Alghe Marine is a tribute to Edoardo Caliendo, who practically invented the guitar in Naples. We want to dedicate this project to him. - Antonello Paliotti

* It is clear, however, that any folk music, once taken out of its context and of the rite for which it was created, has lost much of its meaning. In the same way, codifying the rules of ethnic music does not make sense: excluding grammar from the practice of a language is only a stylistic device, and for this reason, is absolutely lacking in popular imaginary. That is why we have avoided quoting directly the traditional sources. For the Guarracino I have used the version included by Cottrau in the Passatempi Musicali, confronting it dialectically with 'O Spusalizio d''o Guarracino from popular tradition.

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