Thursday, September 3, 2009

Beppe Crovella's Piano Minatures

Italian keyboard maestro Crovella pushes aside his many digital devices and sits down at the acoustic piano for Pianovagando (Electromantic), a new Italian release. He is usually found in the Prog-Fuse outfit Arti & Mestieri, where he is a key player in their sound.

What's rather remarkable about Pianovagando is Beppe's richly inventive approach. On the disk is found no less than 57 miniatures, all rather brief. The pieces have a variety of moods and drives, though the emphasis is on the lyrical side of Beppe's playing. This is not a technical, blow-it-out-your-socks display of virtuosity. It's a straightforward exposition of some interesting musical ideas. As far as genres go, it's probably a mistake to lump this set in with typical solo piano jazz, since improvisation is not a major component. Nor is it really comfortably placed in the classical or concert camp. These are for the most part pieces that show Beppe's roots in Prog-Fuse. Most of these themes could be reset for an electric band and you would feel that the music was not unusual stylistically for a Yes, an Arti & Mestieri, ELP, or whoever in a more "progressive" portion of their set.

Once you get rid of your preconceptions of what a solo piano record is supposed to be like, you can sit back and begin to appreciate Beppe's achievement. It's a madcap dash through Beppe's musical mind. What's inside there is a lot of music, a lot of heart, a lot of lyric themes. It is all brought off with a panache and dash not usually found in this sort of performance. Kudos to Beppe for that!

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