ClarOscuro

Recorded at Onix II Studio · Barcelona 2012
Assistant engineer: Lluis Molas
Piano: Bruno Sanfilippo
Violoncello: Manuel del Fresno
Violin: Pere Bardagí
Mastered at Splendour Mastering · Barcelona
Cover photo by Kaifa Ceralde Sarmiento

Release date: 15 May 2014 by ad21
Limited to 509 copies

CD available:
Denovali | Norman Records | Stashed Goods

Also available digitally from:
iTunes | Amazon.com|co.uk|co.jp|.de|.fr
bandcamp | Spotify


1- Claroscuro
2- Absenta
3- Aquarelle sur papier
4- A constant passion
5- The movement of the grass
6- Luciana
7- It happens on the ship
8- Aquarelle sur toile
9- Day by Day

Barcelona-based Bruno Sanfilippo is a classically trained and electronic musician, a composer and a pianist. He has been exploring the borders of minimal piano concepts and electroacoustic music for more than 20 years. His CD series Piano Textures sets him in a tradition of artists such as Harold Budd and Brian Eno, combining slow piano tunes with electronic soundscapes.
Now with ClarOscuro he makes his step into modern classical music by presenting his first composition work for piano trio. Most of the nine tracks on the album feature Sanfilippo along with the collaboration of the spanish musicians Manuel del Fresno on cello and Pere Bardagi on violin, while some of the tracks still let the sensitive piano playing stands on its own. With the fragility and beauty of some Arvo Pärt compositions and a high cinematic touch, ClarOscuro brings the perfect soundtrack for an imaginary movie.


Reviews

  • Do we need another minimalist soundtrack to an imaginary movie? I'd have been inclined to answer in the negative but I'm prepared to make an exception for this beautiful, calming album which aptly derives its title from the Spanish musical term to describe the play of light and shade. Bruno Sanfilippo is a Barcelona-based classically-trained musician who has released an impressive back catalogue of slow ambient piano tunes. Previous reviewers have understandably drawn comparisons to modern composers such as Max Richter and Arvo Pärt. ClarOscuro is billed as his first composition work for a trio although many of the nine tracks still feature just solo piano. He is joined by Manuel del Fresno on cello and Pere Bardagi on violin. The arrangements, like the digipack design package, are elegant, understated and uncluttered; a fine example of the old adage that less is more.
    Whisperinandhollerin
  • Riprendendo un paio di concetti che avevo espresso riguardo il modern classical e il pianoforte di Bruno Sanfilippo, dicevo ".....sono pochi i pianisti che riescono a dare "peso" allo strumento, scavando nelle sue profondità armoniche, nella capacità di creare mirabili risonanze (anche di contrasto a tocchi di elettronica estemporanea) e soprattutto nella capacità di creare soluzioni....." (da Bruno Sanfilippo e le textures pianistiche) ClarOscuro, il nuovo episodio discografico dell'argentino di stanza in Spagna, soddisfa ancora quel principio: nove brani configurati tra piano in solitudine (un Grand piano risonante) e trio con archi (un violoncello Manuel Del Fresno e un violino Pere Bardagi) che pullulano di sensibilità e di intima introspezione e che si collocano nel meglio di quella prospettiva incantata che ha ridato lustro al vecchio romanticismo, in un intervallo inteso storicamente in un senso più ampio del dovuto e che tocca l'amabile, metafisico ambiente di Satie per arrivare all'ideologico costruttore di strutture sonore, Harold Budd, che, grazie a dosi atipiche di minimalismo musicale, ha creato le premesse per una diffusione modulare di quei suoni. E' da qualche tempo che molti obiettano l'appagamento del genere, e forse non gli si può dar torto quando si cerca di enucleare fattori essenziali per un'autenticità conclamata degli artisti (che va comunque visitata caso per caso), ma personalmente ritengo che esempi post-moderni come quello di Bruno provochino sensazioni in grado (attraverso quella tonalità incantata) di evocare quello che la nostra memoria ha con il tempo sbiadito, recuperare l'anima di una nostra esperienza di vita; è come rivedere, attraverso la musica, una persona cara o un genitore scomparso, un recupero che difficilmente toglieremo mai dalle nostre vite. In ClarOscuro le oasi del ricordo e della tattilità sensoria acquisiscono materialità nelle splendide configurazioni pianistiche di Absenta, i due Aquarelle sur papier e sur toile, nella lunga The movement of grass o nella forza d'urto psicologica di Day by day; mentre It happens on the ship è l'archetipo più riuscito nella normalizzazione degli episodi dedicati agli interventi degli archi.
    Percorsi Musicali
  • Since quite some years, the piano has played an important part in the music of composer Bruno Sanfilippo. On "Clar0scuro", he takes the next step in contemporary instrumental chamberrmusic, on which a violin-player and a violincelloplayer join him on a few tracks as Bruno once again returns to the mesmerizing sounds derived from a Grand Piano. The minimal-flavored outcome lines up nicely next to e.g. the lyrical, introspective works of Tim Story, Harold Budd or Max Richter. The opening title piece though takes a much more uplifting approach contrary to the eight miniatures following after next. The intimate and vibrant spheres captured on most of the nine neo-classical (ambient) compositions reveal hidden beauty, elegance, tranquility and compassion along the love for life and simple things. In addition, there’s a lovely dreamy, imaginary and slight romatic side felt between the carefully chosen notes on the quietly evolving pieces, of which the biggest part are just solo piano. The meditative, the serene and the sparse have been given an emotive voice by means of the piano-centered "Clar0scuro".
    SonicImmersion.org
  • Argentinian Bruno Sanfilippo is a known quantity to listeners who keep a close ear on the ambient scene, and he has worked with a variety of ambient styles, on which he proves himself a synth pad master indeed. However, he’s also dabbled with solo piano pieces, as he did on Piano Textures, another fine recording. ClarOscuro takes this a step further with Sanfilippo’s first entry into the burgeoning field of what seems to be called “modern classical” these days. As far as I can tell, it means slightly classical or soundtracky type recordings made by people who aren’t necessarily classical musicans or classically trained. Correct me if I’m wrong. Add that to “post-rock” and “IDM” on the list of terms that make me and many others scratch our heads. Anyway, that’s beside the point here. The point is that Sanfilippo’s entry into this field is a truly lovely and very self-assured album of pieces either for solo piano or for piano and strings. On this album, recorded in Barcelona, he’s helped out by Manuel del Fresno on violoncello and Pere Bardagi on violin. The string pieces are beautifully scored. As one would expect, the usual influences crop up: Max Richter, Harold Budd, Arvo Pärt are all in evidence, but their presence is not obtrusive; these are merely the usual lazy music critic references, for this album is redolent of Sanfilippo’s personality, not theirs. It’s truly a beautiful collection. The title track, featuring the strings, that leads off is very dramatic with its melancholy melody, and very much like a film soundtrack piece in an autumnal vein. It’ll certainly have the mouths of modern classical fans watering. The solo “Absenta” is right in my wheelhouse, sparse, minimal and meditative like Budd’s best work. “Aquarelle sur papier” is more abstract and impressionistic, as Sanfilippo lets the notes ring out and fill the silence quite admirably. The string piece “Constant Passion”, while it bears a strong resemblance to the concluding section of Steve Hackett’s “Shadow of the Hierophant”, is defintely well composed as well. “The Movement of the Grass” is again a very sparse piece in the Harold Budd vein. A nice little excursion is taken with “It Happens on the Ship”, a sort of early twentieth-century sounding piece that’s both light and melancholy, sounding kind of like what the musicians on the Titanic might have played as it went down. Perhaps that is the intent of the title? And finally, “Day by Day”, a long, elegiac solo piece, is worthy of being listened to in sequence with Florian Fricke’s solo piano pieces, for it has the same atmosphere of spiritual yearning. This album has to be considered a triumph for Sanfilippo’s career, and if you like piano, this should be your next purchase.
    MAKE YOUR OWN TASTE
  • El compositor hispano-argentino Bruno Sanfilippo nos presenta su nuevo trabajo, un disco que lleva por título "ClarOscuro". En este convulso mundo en el que vivimos, en el que parece que lo más importante es sólo gritar más alto para así parecer más que los demás, en lo que lo único que importa es el poder y estar por encima de todo, es un verdadero placer el escuchar una obra cómo esta, un disco en el que la serenidad, la tranquilidad, el sosiego, la paz es su razón de ser, porque el talentoso compositor e intérprete nos sigue mostrando su habilidad con las teclas de un piano y su buen hacer compositivo para crear una obra cómo ésta. Con una preciosa portada, "ClarOscuro" nos va deleitando a través de sus nueve composiciones con el suave piano de Bruno, con eses sonidos que nos ayudan a olvidarnos de todo lo que nos rodea, a centrarnos en la serenidad, en la tranquilidad, además en esta ocasión, Bruno ha incluido en algunos de los temas y de forma muy certera el aporte de un violín y un violoncello aportando todavía más profundidad a su música. Bruno es uno de los grandes compositores que residen en España, un músico que trabajo tras trabajo sigue su evolución musical, un compositor que está logrando un nivel muy difícil de superar, creando piezas musicales serenas, profundas, de las que te deleitas cómo si del mejor manjar se tratara y éste álbum no es una excepción. El mundo en el que vivimos tiene sus partes oscuras pero con trabajos así logramos ver los clarOs y recuperar la tranquilidad que necesitamos.
    A Ultima Fronteira Radio
  • Goodness me. I should have put this on last night, It's utterly gorgeous. I'll be straight with you and admit I know relatively little about classical music other than enjoying many of the obvious contemporary composers. I love the more sombre stuff be it the older boys such as Gorecki and Arvo Pärt or the gradually-getting-more-legendary Max Richter and the beautiful strains of my favourite Icelandic composer Hildur Guðnadóttir. Barcelona's Bruno Sanfilippo also has that rare gift for composing hugely emotive and highly personal music from tender, melancholic peals of piano, both ponderous and also joyous plus a highly acute awareness of the power of acoustic resonance. His playing has a grace, purity and tenderness I've not heard in some time. Neither chocolate box whimsical nor overwrought, there is a sincere and powerfully talented master at work here. Obviously it's the tracks burnished with cello and violin that strike most strongly. This truly is profoundly mesmerising and powerfully understated music, supremely high in stately prowess and quality as regards this timeless genre. Sad music to induce damp eyes and help mend dried-out hearts, I'm grateful to our Clinton for saving this beauty for me. No more words. Let 'ClarOscuro' work its magic on you. Comes with lovely postcard, can't see these around for too long once word gets around. No more words needed other than nine spacious tracks that can only be described as "achingly beautiful"
    Norman Records
  • STYLE: Piano and strings. Bruno Sanfilippo releases his latest solo album in the form of ClarOscuro. This time he is joined by Manuel Del Fresno on Violoncello and Pere Bardagí on Violin. An impressively elegant and blissfully tranquil set of tracks, ClarOscuro's gentle, classical approach calls to mind the delicate, minimal piano work of Satie or Max Richter whilst benefitting from Bruno's evident expertise in the contemporary field of modern ambient. There are piano-only pieces; compositions for the two stringed instruments and a number that feature a combination of these. Minimal, yet sparsely melodic, ClarOscuro luxuriates in the subtleties of the sounds employed: notes are often left hanging in the air, their delicate decay fully appreciated, fine textural layers form around the lead instruments like atmospheric distance and soft pedal or fingering details add to the impelling sense of presence many of the recording establish. ARTWORK: ClarOscuro is presented in a simple two-panel digipack of pale grey hue. Traceries of trees form an attractive backdrop for most of the surfaces - the front cover placing a peculiar transparent piano in the centre. Little other than track titles disturb the smooth surface of the rear cover - a website address is tucked away in small font at the foot. Inside also is uncluttered: a title, credits and the disc itself. OVERALL: ClarOscuro sees Spanish ambient piano master Bruno Sanfilippo following up his series of Piano Textures albums with something a little more traditionally structured. The nine delightful recordings here have a strong classical sensibility, understated melodies and haunting demeanour. These pieces will repay careful listening or deep immersion, bringing a serenity to your day, yet they could equally be allowed to colour the background of your life, surely beautifying your surroundings with their evident feeling and grace.
    Morpheus Music
  • Didn’t I already love Bruno Sanfilippo’s music enough? I have followed him over the years through ambient spaces and solo piano ruminations, and now he comes forth bearing ClarOscuro, a suite of pieces for an intimate acoustic trio. With his as-always wonderful piano accompanied by cellist Manuel del Fresno and violinist Pere Bardagi, Sanfilippo turns out an album that is quite simply the most beautiful work he has ever released. Emotionally stunning, ClarOscuro grabs the listener by the heart mere moments after its first note, and never relinquishes its hold. The full trio pieces are very strong. It’s hard to resist the soulful allure of those throaty cello sounds and the singing violin. The title track, which kicks off the album, makes full use of the dynamic. The harmonies between the three instruments are heart-stirring. Each instrument has its moment at the forefront, and the piece itself is a perfect, classic-influenced ballad. If you can listen to this without feeling a twinge of pure emotion, I would politely suggest there is something wrong with you. On “Luciana” Sanfilippo lays out a strict and angular piano line, a patient phrase over which the strings sing a duet. del Fresno’s bass notes are resonant and rich here, fully utilizing the potency of those low strings. Sanfilippo makes an interesting decision on his album by giving his composition “A Constant Passion” over completely to del Fresno and Bardagi. This slowly bowed dirge reminds me of the work of Henryk Górecki. The cello repeats its simple phrase over and over, gaining emotional power with each unchanging pass. Bardagi provides the high counterpoint, a voice on the edge of tears. The trio get more playful on “It Happens On the Ship.” This piece has a tipsy charm about it. It feels like soundtrack music from a 1940s comic film. The piano weaves unsteadily between the strings. Bardagi’s violin repeats a drowsy run that feels like it’s trying to keep its eyes open–and del Fresno’s lullaby lines on cello aren’t helping. This track just makes me smile. Then there are Sanfilippo’s solo pieces on piano. As with his Piano Texture releases, this is the sound of an artist in genuine mastery of his instrument. “The Movement of Grass” gets an assist from light electronic touches that whisper in the background. Subtle warbles and a gentle sigh of wind–both just enough to suggest their presence, a light tap on your shoulder to ask for your momentary attention. The clean New Age style of “Day by Day” closes the album softly and romantically. ClarOscuro is a remarkably beautiful album, emotionally charged and superbly composed. This is a high mark in Sanfilippo’s ongoing evolution as an artist. As much as I want to hear what he will do next and where he will take his listeners, I could certainly use more of the kind of music offered here. Put on this deeply contemplative album, pour yourself a glass of wine (perhaps a nice Spanish Rioja or Argentine Malbec…) and open your heart to ClarOscuro. A truly magnificent work.
    Hypnagogue
  • ClarOscuro de Bruno Sanfilippo : ou le néo-classique ambient Bruno Sanfilippo est un talentueux compositeur de formation classique et électronique basé à Barcelone, dont l'instrument de prédilection reste le piano. Il a d'ailleurs dédié à celui-ci sa série "Piano Texture", hautement recommandée si vous êtes sensible au travaux minimalistes d'Harold Budd, et ses collaborations ambient avec Brian Eno ("The Plateau Of Mirrors", "The Pearl"). L'œuvre de notre artiste espagnol à la démarche exploratoire s'inscrit dans cette même veine atmosphérique et sensitive depuis plus de 20 ans, avec une attention tout autant portée sur la "mise en son" que sur la musique en elle-même. Que ce soit en solitaire ou en collaboration, Bruno Sanflippo nous immerge dans des paysages sonores sereins et radieux, en combinant la plupart du temps lentes mélodies de piano (aux notes en suspension, presque aléatoires) et textures électroniques diaphanes. Ceci nous amène à son nouvel album qui sortira le 15 mai à venir, joliment intitulé "ClarOscuro" (ce qui n'est pas pour nous déplaire !). Cet opus marquera une nouvelle étape dans la démarche créative de Bruno Sanfilippo, puisqu'il y présentera son premier travail de composition en formation trio. Les notes en apesanteur du piano à queue se combinent ici au violoncelle mélancolique de Manuel del Fresno et au violon tout aussi expressif de Pere Bardagi, pour générer de concert 9 pièces d'une grande beauté et d'une rare sensibilité. Il en résulte une musique sublime, un peu comme si Arvo Pärt rencontrait Erik Satie pour réaliser ensemble la bande originale d'un film imaginaire : le vôtre ! A découvrir absolument.
    Clairetobscur
  • Barcelona-resident composer (and graduate of Galvani Conservatory, Buenos Aires) Sanfilippo has released albums since 2000 for a variety of forces, but the piano has proven an abiding interest. ClarOscuro marks his entry into the modern classical world, with an album which doesn’t quite know where to stand. Arvo Pärt is obviously a touchstone for the music here, but it’s not a hugely helpful comparison. Where the Estonian composer’s music is meditative and almost completely still, there is a feeling of restlessness, of a desire for movement in Sanfilippo’s work. In fact, there’s more in common with Michael Nyman’s work here – a continual melodic line is the hallmark of these pieces rather than an unearthly stillness. The music is uniformly quiet in a way you’ll be familiar with if you’ve heard Nyman’s The Piano soundtrack (‘Absentia’), or perhaps the piano works of Gavin Bryars (‘Luciana’), Yann Tiersen (the titular opener) or (in her quieter moments) Elena Kats-Chernin. It’s lyrical and there’s a lot of sustained notes, stretching into decay. There’s touches of the rainy-afternoon Erik Satie or Claude Debussy about the work, but I feel that’s just in terms of emotional association rather than in terms of execution: the sound of the piano played this way makes the listener feel this way, almost regardless of the content. It could be library music. The bulk of the disc is piano-only compositions (sometimes multitracked) but there’s also the occasional celllo and violin. ‘A Constant Passion’ is the album’s best combination of other instruments, though it does lack the reversed-chord weirdness which marks ‘The Movement of the Grass’. Elsewhere, moments of humanity leak in – though to the point of distraction – key travel clunking can be heard. It’s interesting in its effort to both create and break a sense of stasis, of soporific acceptance. There appear to be quotations of other pieces throughout, for the alert listener. I swear there’s snippets of David Shire’s music from The Conversation as well as some Debussy piano pieces salted through. These create some clever aha! moments for the attentive listener. The diversion is good, as your enjoyment of the album will be determined by how familiar you are with the composers Sanfillipo seems to refer to. His work is enjoyable yet unremarkable, with some of the sterility ECM recordings are known for – though I readily admit this could be to keep the listener in a sense of stasis. The difficulty with the pieces here is they appear to the listener as cues from a film rather than standalone compositions. It speaks to their strengths that they’re evocative of film, but the seem to lack the structure of concert pieces. I suppose the intent is to be more relaxed than staged – hence the references to Brian Eno and Harold Budd in album promo, though I only really hear the latter, and not too much of the former save the Discreet Music vibe and occasional wind sounds. Sanfilippo is attempting to straddle the classical and ambient markets but manages to lack the successes of wholeheartedly chasing either camp. If anything, this lands more in the Windham Hill camp, a great example of the in-between. ClarOscuro is a good album. It’s serviceable, it’s soundtrack-y and it creates a mood. It’s just not great. Sanfilippo obviously has some ability – it’d be good to hear it escape the shadows of Nyman, Budd et al and make its own music. It’s almost as if ClarOscuro is a collection of variations or exercises, a warming-up for what may follow.
    Cyclic Defrost Magazine
  • Bruno Sanfilippo est un artiste originaire d’Argentine, mais actuellement basé à Barcelone. Âgé d’une petite cinquantaine d’année, cela fait 25 ans qu’il compose. S’il a débuté dans les années 90 avec des musiques électroniques ambient lorgnant un peu vers le new age, l’Argentin est désormais clairement passé du côté du néo-classique, avec notamment sa série de Piano Textures dont les deux premiers volets ont déjà été réédités. La grande majorité de ses albums sont édités sur son propre label, à l’image de ce ClarOscuro sur lequel on notera par ailleurs la participation de deux autres musiciens à savoir Manuel del Fresno au violoncelle et Pere Bardagí au violon. L’album s’ouvre justement avec le morceau titre sur un équilibre entre piano et cordes. Violon et violoncelle se relaient sans cesse et si le trio semble mener à tour de rôle la mélodie ce sont bien les cordes qui finissent par diriger la danse alors que le piano se cantonne à l’accompagnement. Comme pour compenser, c’est un piano solo qui prend place sur Absenta. Le style est assez différent, accordant une large place aux silences, évoquant alors une musique de film, que l’on imagine être plutôt un film d’auteur, la caméra suivant un personnage principal habité par le doute, le questionnement. Les notes plus détachées, les silences qui opèrent comme des cassures rendent ces pièces solo un peu plus expérimentales même si par endroit de brèves boucles mélodiques font leur apparition au milieu de Aquarelle Sur Papier. S’il n’y est nullement fait référence, on distingue parfois sur ces pièces solo quelques bruitages ou effets électroniques discrets. Une note jouée à l’envers en ouverture de The Movement Of The Grass, mais aussi ce qui semble être la reverb des notes, pleine de souffle, qui remplit les silences. On appréciera enfin le jeu du musicien sur Aquarelle Sur Toile, ses notes brèves, appuyées puis retenues, laissant entrevoir les bruits mécaniques de l’instrument. C’est également en solo que l’Argentin conclut son album avec un Day By Dayplus classique, mélodique et particulièrement fluide. Quand les cordes sont de la partie, le ton est nettement plus grave, à l’image de ce A Constant Passion au violoncelle appuyé dont les boucles donnent le tempo, là où les violons se font fragiles, voire plaintifs, trainant en longueur. Elles contribuent également au style cinématographique de Luciana : on imagine facilement un drame ancien qui se serait déroulé dans une vieille maison bourgeoise isolée, drame qui poursuivrait aujourd’hui les actuels occupants. Plus original, It Happens On The Ship joue sur le mystère. Les glissements de cordes vont et viennent, donnant l’impression d’errer, de faire les 100 pas sur un piano délicat, fin, dont chaque note semble être une goutte d’eau. Bien que relativement classique, cet album est surtout l’occasion pour nous de découvrir le travail de Bruno Sanfilippo sur lequel on reviendra très certainement.
    EtherREAL
  • "Claroscuro" is without doubt the best release I heard in 2014, and surely some of the best music that Bruno has ever done. There is a particular beauty on this album that inspires me in a variety of different ways, and I find myself discovering new elements to appreciate every time I hear it. I know I'm prone to hyperbole, but this time I'm really being quite serious when I say that "Claroscuro" is a wonderful and beautiful album that you would be foolish not to check out."
    Rik MacLean
  • With two decades of making minimalist piano-based and electro-acoustic music behind him, it would be fair to say that Barcelona-based Bruno Sanfilippo is not lacking on the experience front. What is important is that he continues to make music which ensures that each note and tempo shift really matters; maximising emotional impact with the minimum amount of effort you might say. For ‘ClarObscuro’, Sanfilippo enlists the assistance of violin player Pere Bardagi and cellist Manuel del Fresno. When these instruments combine, we’re probably more used to hearing them create a sombre atmosphere but the music on the title track here evokes life, nature and no small amount of hope; setting the standard for instrumental music of great warmth. Here, the pretty, evergreen piano textures are interspersed with Baradgi’s and del Fresno’s string parts. The saddest moments seem to be reserved for the solo piano compositions (‘Absenta’ and the Satie-meets-Harold Budd couplet ‘Aquarelle Sur Papier’ and ‘Aquarelle Suer Toile’). That said, there is an aura of creeping horror to ‘A Constant Passion’. Even more moving moments occur in the second half of the album. ‘The Movement Of The Grass’, a lovely poignant melody, is accompanied by the merest whisper of the wind, which lingers for ten wonderful minutes. On ‘It Happens On The Ship’, a repetitive, unwinding motif is balanced by the invention of del Fresno and Baradgi and the closing ‘Day By Day’ is rich in unraveling melodrama. The press release calls it “The perfect soundtrack for an imaginary movie”. The press release is right too with many of these pieces perfectly suited to a tale of romantic tragedy. In fact, ‘ClarOscuro’ is really rather beautiful from beginning to end.
    Leonard’s Lair
  • In Barcelona based Argentinian composer Bruno Sanfilippo keeps on his virtuosic journey into modern classical realms. While in his acclaimed "Piano Textures" series he bridged expressive piano textures mostly with tranquil natural sounds, with this newest album Bruno Sanfilippo demonstrates his full transition into contemporary instrumental arrangements. Released in May, 2014, on Bruno's ad21 label, "ClarOscuro" comes in a truly elegant 4-panel digipak (cover photo by Kaifa Ceralde Sarmiento and layout by Bruno's wife Ximena Contreras) and features two guest artists, Manuel del Fresno on violoncello and Pere Bardagí on violin. Additional credits go to Lluis Molas for his engineering assistance as well as to Splendour Mastering. Nostalgic grand piano tune by the main protagonist announces "ClarOscuro", the title composition. Soon the bowed string vizardry of both guests joins the stage for richly evocative listening experience. Intimate piano playing is beautifully blended with sorrowful cello and violin. A very strong composition!!! The next track, "Absenta", embraces the listener with its deeply evocative piano subtlety and gorgeously saturating stillness. A true masterpiece!!! "Aquarelle Sur Papier" remains on the same, captivatingly sparse path, filled with poignant intimacy and nostalgic serenity. A piano bravura at its most expressive, more please!!! "A Constant Passion" marks the return of Manuel del Fresno and Pere Bardagí, who excel with their stringed sadness, masterfully expressed by lamenting cello and wistfully surging violin. The piano playing on "The Movement Of The Grass" is magnificently displayed by its poetic title, while occasional hazy echoes add a new dimension to this intensely scenic composition. With 9 and half minutes the longest piece on "clarOscuro" and certainly one of the pinnacles of this album!!! "Luciana" straightly dives into touchingly yearning cinematic refinement, with carefully interacting fragile piano, weeping cello and heart-warming violin. Rather sparse, but continuously intense and strikingly effective. To me, the most exceptional composition on this album so far showcasing the talent of all its grandmasters. Bravo, señores!!! "It Happens On The Ship" merges mesmerizingly undulating strings with slightly euphoric piano notes, a rather abstractly refreshing texture. "Aquarelle Sur Toile" attracts with filigree piano delicacy, passionate and joyful. "Day By Day" closes this beautiful album with solo piano performance, again deeply reflective with warmly cascading moods. A very nice conclusion. "ClarOscuro" is completing Bruno Sanfilippo's return to his origins. As a classically trained pianist with a Grand Piano in his basement studio, he is ready to fulfill his long time dreams and challenges. Bruno Sanfilippo has already proved many times his amazing talent and flexibility within ambient genre and "ClarOscuro" is the next, giant step in his recording career. No matter if piano based or delving into electronic soundworlds, Bruno Sanfilippo is always here to deliver the best of his artistry. So I can only repeat my usual words when wrapping my review of his albums and collaborations, muchas gracias, Maestro!!! And of course kudos also to all other contributing artists!!!
    Richard Gürtler
  • The phrase that comes to mind while watching Bruno Sanfilippo play the piano is “deceptively simple”. One thinks, “that doesn’t look so hard”. Then the right hand moves up an octave, the playing grows more complex, and one’s initial impression is revised. While watching the video for “Absenta”, one also gains an appreciation for the artist’s approach: patient, tender, melancholic. The space between notes becomes as important as the notes themselves. The fact that Sanfilippo has been composing for over twenty years is incredible by itself, as most of the artists we review have a much shorter shelf life. Not only is Sanfilippo still recording, he’s continuing to expand his palette. ClarOscuro arrives on the heels of Piano Textures 1, 2 and 3, which seemed to be his magnus opus until the new disc dropped. This time around, he’s joined on many tracks by Manuel del Fresno (violin) and Per Bardagi (cello). These alternate with soft, pure piano pieces, providing a meaningful contrast. The tinges of electronica present on earlier works have largely been dropped – a good thing as such forays often grow dated, while orchestral music tends to be timeless. The title track seems to indicate that Sanfilippo is following the lead of artists such as Olafur Arnalds, creating a resume fitting for film. The dynamic contrast of this piece is exquisite, as the piano holds the middle ground between the high and low strings. Multiple melodic lines converge and withdraw, allowing the keys to dominate despite the fuller arrangement. The darker “Luciana” appeared on our ACL Singles Chart in May and possesses a completely different timbre, wistful and ominous all at once, a sign that the composer is able to shift moods with ease. The same holds true for “It happens on the ship”, which flirts with abstraction, building suspense between slow surges of minor key melody. But the set piece is the nearly ten-minute “The movement of the grass”, graced by subtle electronics that suggest wind on wheat. The piano notes are as sparse as seeds in a gentle breeze, impressionistic rather than overt, an honest reflection of the album’s title and the artist’s approach.
    A Closer Listen
  • Bruno Sanfilippo creates my kind of modern neoclassical soundscapes and he has really nailed it with his latest album, from the opening bars of the title track - "ClarOscuro" - I knew I was in for a treat. And what a treat "ClarOscuro" is ... it is a powerfully cinematic expression ... a graceful, elegant, refined expression that doesn't demand your attention but, most definitely, warrants it. Sanfilippo is a fine pianist. On the tracks where he plays solo piano - such as "absenta" - you are given a master class in expressive dynamics, in mood & temperament. This isn't just minimalism, it is the less-is-more of an elegant actress who doesn't need the ’bling’ to show of her beauty. I find Sanfilippo's solo expression utterly captivating, I am entranced like the moviegoer watching this beautiful actress, I follow Sanfilippo’s music wherever it goes. "ClarOscuro" isn't just the solo piano of Bruno Sanfilippo, however. Dotted throughout the album are tracks that combine his exemplary playing with the most luscious strings, tracks like the opener (and title track) "ClarOscuro", "A constant passion" with it's deep cello or "It happens on the ship" with it's swirling, hypnotic strings. "ClarOscuro" by Bruno Sanfilippo is an exceptional album and a real highlight of 2014. If modern neo-classical soundscapes are your thing, in particular the piano-orientated and cinematic, then you will thoroughly enjoy this album as I have. Recommended.
    Headphonaught.co.uk
  • ClarOscuro presents an extremely compelling argument on behalf of Bruno Sanfilippo as both a performer and modern classical composer. Issued on his own ad21 label, the nine-track collection features the classically trained pianist solo and in the company of violoncellist Manuel del Fresno and violinist Pere Bardagi. It's hardly his first recording: Sanfilippo's first release dates from 2000, and since then he's issued three collections in his Piano Textures series. He's also delved into soundtrack production and explored electro-acoustic music on a number of releases, and listeners whose taste runs to Michael Nyman, Gavin Bryars, Harold Budd, and Brian Eno will assuredly find much to appreciate about Sanfilippo's music. In fact, the new album's “A Constant Passion” is not only Nyman-esque, it sounds as if it were composed with a soundtrack in mind, given the emotional intensity of its strings-only arrangement. The Barcelona-based Sanfilippo is as much if not more of a minimalist than Glass but that's not meant so much in the sense of compositional approach as playing style. For one of the most appealing things about Sanfilippo's playing is the exquisite restraint he brings to his performances; if anything, one gets the impression that he's always looking to find ways to strip his playing down to its essence rather than embellish it. An equally distinguishing aspect of his playing is his use of ritardando; a major part of the pleasure in listening to the solo piano setting “Absenta,” for example, derives from witnessing the expert control with which he slows the tempo during his performance. A couple of pieces are so close in compositional style to others, they could pass for homages: the lovely “Luciana” conceivably might have been penned by Bryars himself, while “The Movement of the Grass” possesses a gentle, dream-like quality that calls to mind Budd's music. ClarOscuro also works well as a portrait of Sanfilippo in the way it gathers a number of different approaches onto a single release. His interest in ambient design and the marriage of piano and electronic treatments is effectively accounted for by “The Movement of the Grass,” for instance, where the minimal piano playing allows ample room for ambient textures to breathe. As a composer, he largely eschews the strict, pattern-based approach symbolized by Glass for a more open-ended and organic style. Sanfilippo infuses his romantic pieces with a melodic quality characterized by grace and elegance, with no better example the ravishing title track, a lilting waltz that sees his melancholy lines complemented by the strings of his guests. The heartbreaking effect generated by the music is something special indeed, though it's hardly the only special moment on this excellent fifty-minute collection.
    Textura.org
  • Classically trained musician and composer Bruno Sanfilippo presents a beautiful romantic and somewhat melancholic set of modern classical compositions for piano, violin (Pere Bardagi) and violoncello (Manuel del Fresno). "With the fragility and beauty of some Arvo Pärt compositions and a high cinematic touch, "ClarOscuro" brings the perfect soundtrack for an imaginary movie"
    Ambientblog
  • Nell’esile diaframma tra luce e ombra si colloca il nuovo lavoro di Bruno Sanfilippo. Per l’occasione, il pianista di origine argentina torna alla composizione solista per un album ideato in maniera interamente personale dopo numerose collaborazioni; lo fa mirando a coniugare l’espressività dei suoi paesaggi sonori di minimalismo pianistico con una altrettanto essenziale dimensione da camera. Le nove tracce di “ClarOscuro” vedono infatti un’alternanza tra pièce di piano solo e miniaturali sinfonie create da un piccolo ensemble che vi affianca il violoncello di Manuel del Fresno e il violino di Pere Bardagí. Non è soltanto la dimensione condivisa e plurale a definire l’equilibrio compositivo del lavoro, frutto dell’evidente ricerca di una formula espressiva non solo risultante da una progressiva opera di sottrazione ma anche e soprattutto intesa alla creazione di suggestioni dagli spiccati contenuti descrittivi ed emozionali. È la transizione esplicita a un neoclassicismo organico, che si riveste di sfumature di delicato romanticismo, in particolare quando gli archi si librano ariosi (“Luciana”) o intessono sfondi di fragile quiete ambientale (“It Happens On The Ship”). È tuttavia un’affascinante atmosfera umbratile a costituire la linea conduttrice dei cinquanta minuti di “ClarOscuro”, percepibile anche nei colori pastello diluiti nel binomio “Aquarelle sur papier” e “Aquarelle sur toile” ed esaltata con sensibilità cinematica nella conclusiva “Day By Day”, ispirato suggello di un disco che proprio nel suo perenne stato di liminale penombra rende emblematica la transizione di Sanfilippo dal solo minimalismo a un formato più articolato e, soprattutto, fortemente evocativo.
    Music won't save you