Tra Cel e Tèra (Between Sky and Earth)
Traditional songs and dances from Piemont
Dunya Records fy8097
Monferrina della provincia di Cuneo; Monferrina della provincia di Lanzo Viu; Monferrina di Domodossola; 0 s'a na sun tre scularin; Scottish; Scottish; Mal Maria; Perigordino; Perigordino; E sur cunt a si marida; Monferrina; Monferrina; Monferrina di Masserano; Quater sold a la duzein-na; Curenta di Baime; Curenta 'd la valmasia; Mac al bun; La bela Marianin; Margheritina a va al mulin; Bourree alessandrina; U ciarlatan; Scottish 'd Luj; II turututena; Sbrando; Brando di Tonco; Napoleon; Montferrine; Carmagnola; 'Na grosa frev s'a j e saute; Sa I'e Gigina ch'a I'e 'n tel bal; Alessandrina; Alessandrina; U cincein.It's always a great pleasure to report the existence of a fine new record, and doubly so when you had been expecting a mild disappointment. I have been a fan of (and a friend of) Tre Martelli for 20 years now, but I have to admit that their last couple of CDs have failed to excite me very much. They seemed to be moving away from their traditional roots and into more formal music, gleaned mainly from manuscripts and collections.
When I heard that three members of the band had left to join another group a couple of years ago, I thought that this probably signalled the end of the band. Indeed, Enzo Conti sent me a despondent e-mail saying that he was hardly playing at all at that time. So when he told me, early this year, that there was a new band with a new CD coming out and that he'd like to get a little tour in England, I was both pleased and somewhat wary of where their new direction and membership would be taking them.
I need not have worried - having just returned from seeing their three gigs at Towersey, I can report that the audiences loved them, and that the new band is quite as good as the old. (Reports tell me that the Bridgnorth concert went equally well.) Founder members Enzo Conti (melodeon) and Renzo Ceroni (bassetto, guitar) retain the services of Andrea Sibilio (fiddle, viola, mandolin, mandola, percussion, voice) who has been with the band since the early eighties. Indeed, he's now a key member since all the arrangements and two of the tunes are his. To this experienced core has now been added three younger members: Fernando Raimondo (hurdy-gurdy), Paolo Dall'Ara (cornamuse, piffero, whistles and bones) and Giancarla Guerra (singer). Unfortunately, family problems meant that Giancarla was unable to travel the England, and her place was taken at the last minute by a young friend of Renzo's daughter, Elisabetta Gagliardi. So last-minute was Elisabetta's recruitment that for one song, the Towersey gig was her first public performance. One would never have known! She was absolutely superb, particularly in the two concert performances - soaring singing and a strong stage presence. This girl will go far!
Fernando Raimondo is a very good hurdy-gurdy player, who reminds me yet again of how much I prefer the sound of the Italian ghironda to the French/English machine - which always seems to make rather more noise than music. Paolo Dall'Ara is a fine piper and whistle player, again with a strong stage presence - and when he played the bones (tachenèttes) the crowd went wild!
This new CD (their eighth) is delightful - and very interesting. Whilst having only 16 tracks, most of them are sets, so you actually get some 33 tunes/songs. Using the new band as the basis of all the music, they have invited practically all the singers and players who have ever worked with them in the past to contribute - so we find the singers Bernadette Da Dalt, Ciacio Marchelli, Laura Conti, Andrea Peasso and Betti Zambruno, plus Beppe Greppi (melodeon), Paolo Lodici (whistle), Maurizio Martinotti and Gianni Ricci (hurdy-gurdies), Claudio Rolandi (accordion) and some English bloke on melodeon.
The playing and arrangements are of a very high order; the drift from the older, rougher traditional style of music has been accompanied by a quite startling development of technique amonst the older players, and matched by the abilities of the new, younger members. It's interesting to note that Paolino Dall'Ara and Elisabetta Gagliardi weren't even born when Tre Martelli started in 1977, but they make one hell of a contribution in 2005!
I should also report that - as far as I can tell - almost none of the repertoire on this CD has ever been recorded by the band before, so old fans of Tre Martelli can - and should - buy this new one without any fear of the 'yet another version of' syndrome, so common among recordings by well established groups. Indeed, you should all buy it ... a lovely record!
And I have just heard from Enzo, now back in Italy, that Elisabetta Gagliardi will now be the permanent lead singer for the band.
Rod Stradling - 2.9.05