As a classically trained musician and composer, we can naturally expect that Buenos Aires-born Bruno Sanfilippo is no slouch when it comes to releasing instrumental albums of original material. As the title 'Piano Textures 3? makes clear, this is the third in a series of albums by the artist, with the whole trilogy now available in a handy boxed set.
From the opening keys of 'Piano Textures 3 I', there's a sense that this is going to be a melodically and texturally rich yet rather depressing affair. Indeed, the mood on the first two pieces speaks of a soundtrack to tragic 1970?s films such as 'The Go Between' or 'Don't Look Now', perhaps; beautiful yet unavoidably downbeat. Then 'III' signals quite a dramatic turn; the keys unfolding like petals of a new flower, such is the feeling of optimism that is generated.
Sanfilippo employs the minimum of surroundings to the key instrument but does this effectively whether it's the odd clanging of bells, distant voices or bird song. Yet in a rare moment of relative extravagance, 'V' is accompanied by strings and samples of waves. It's hardly Sigur Ros territory but you could certainly visualise it underscoring nature documentaries. Elsewhere there's a lovely yet flowing contrast between the stark 'VI' and the fragrant shimmer of 'VII' but these serve as mere interludes for the stately, stirring finale. It's the only track which stretches to the ten minute mark but not a moment is wasted.
Sanfiliippo's expertise with the piano cannot be disputed. Yet of more significance is that this is instrumental music with a very tangible emotional power. The fact that they are original compositions makes these endeavours all the more impressive since they sound like set texts from a bygone age, with only the ambient touches to distinguish them from a vintage era.
I first discovered Bruno Sanfilippo back in 2007, when this Galvani Conservatory (Buenos Aires) musical composition graduate released Piano Textures on his very own AD21 label since 1998. I somehow missed the second volume of Piano Textures which came out in 2009, but I am extremely grateful to Sanfilippo for furnishing the third! And if this is your first encounter with this Spanish composer, I'm happy to point you towards a limited and signed box set edition of all three volumes! But back to music. The subdued sequentially titled pieces explore the depth and multitude of textures that, to my continued amazement, can be extracted from the instrument. There is lyricism, elegance and poise in every single track, balanced with just a touch of post-processing with slight reverb and delay. The atmospheres are colorful and bright, at times complimented with field recordings of water, singing birds and strings. The eight compositions are rather lengthy in time, with most passing over the six-minute mark, allowing the listener to get fully engrossed in the melody, structure and sound. "My master used to say," quotes Sanfilippo on the liner notes of the album, "on the lighted stage or in front of the awaken microphones, dream! Don't be really there while you improvise, then you will make your audience dream as well." I will surely take that advice...
"My master used to say, on the lighted stage or in front of the awaken microphones, dream! Don’t be really there while you improvise, then you will make your audience dream as well.”
Perhaps Bruno Sanfilippo actually intended for this liner note statement to be as ambiguous as it is, or perhaps the actual meaning was snagged on the prickly obstacle of mistranslation. Regardless, I’ve interpreted “don’t be really there” to mean letting one’s self be consumed by the act of improvisation; swatting even the idea of pre-meditation out of the picture, re-positioning both player and listeners as the audience of pure chance. Thus, instead of “dreaming” into the limitations of human personality and habit, one can dream into the infinite.
But in the knowledge that Sanfilippo is a classically trained composer and performer with two decades of experience behind him, one gets more than just a glimpse of his melodic sensibility and technical refinement; the music runs up and down major scales and exhibits an adherence to tempo, scuttling with the fluidity and light touch of a particularly gentle (but impeccably precise) ballet dance. Even the shadows of other artists creep into view (Eno’s piano-driven waterfall cascades, Sakamoto’s serene open plains), and rather than be liberated from the human image, I feel constantly reminded of its central presence.
Aside from those tracks that wallow in overly saccharine film soundtrack (I’m looking at you, track five), by no means is this meant as a criticism. My favourite moments are those that actually utilise these classical tendencies via the music’s mercurial execution. The sixth piece, for example, tiptoes gently forward into an open window of sampled morning conversation and birdsong, with low notes struck and left to bounce softly against the string. During moments like this, which cushion themselves beautifully within the confines of major key, I realise that initial interpretation of the quote above is perhaps inaccurate. Sanfilippo does not pursue the absolute evaporation of humanity from his recording; I reach this dreamstate through the music’s unbroken serenity, and while his status as a polished composer/performer is ever-present, there comes a point that I’m too blissfully away to care.
Well, I’m a bit late with this review. The album has been released earlier this year and I’ve been able to listen to it even before. But at first I didn’t find the words, then I didn’t find the time to write something about ‘Piano Textures 3' by Bruno Sanfilippo. Finally today I find both, words and time.
There are many solo piano releases that were presented to the audience in 2012. Most of them claim to be improvised completely. Most of them certainly are. But while Nils Frahm’s ‘Felt’ was the most fabulous and intimate one that made you feel like sitting inside the piano during the recordings, Bruno Sanfilippo’s ‘Piano Textures 3' is a beautiful contrast that makes you feel like sitting far far away from the piano. Maybe even far above. Sometimes it seems to be a dedication to Frédéric Chopin, but the year of Chopin was in 2010 already so that I guess that it’s just the favourite tonality that Bruno shares with Mr. Chopin (and maybe – like most pianists – he used to play many of Chopin’s Nocturnes, Impromtus and Préludes). Then, suddenly, Débussy-esque pentatonic elements and consecutive fourths and fifths appear and build beautiful clouds of piano textures and echoes. ‘II’ definitely is the highlight of the album, the best considered and also – from my point of view – best played improvisation that I could find on ‘Piano Textures 3'. Again reminding me a lot of Débussy Bruno uses the complexion and scales of old spanish dances. Skillful additions of dissonances bring that certain variety and denseness that catches at least my attention. Definitely the most outstanding piece.
Some elements of it return in beautiful variations on track ‘VII’. Besides, ‘VI’ creates a very special atmosphere due to the field recordings and the feeling of sudden closeness to the piano and pianist. The epilogue is sort of a meditation in b flat and gives this beautifully calm album the finishing touch.
Bruno has a pleasantly discreet behaviour at the piano as far as I can imagine from listening to the recordings and I really like this.
‘Piano Textures 3' is a hibernal album, not just because I listened to it again today while looking at the snow-covered streets here in Berlin.
Top 10 best albums 2012
With his third collection of solo and almost-solo piano pieces, I can confidently declare that Bruno Sanfilippo now dwells in realms inhabited by such gifted artists as Harold Budd and Tim Story. Piano music with ambient qualities is hardly new - Eric Satie (1866-1925) was doing it well over a century ago - and yet Piano Textures III reminds us what a potent vehicle the style remains for the gifted artist. It's interesting that the versatile Sanfilippo is not even a piano specialist; just look at his wide and often wonderful discography including last year's Subliminal Pulse (2011). Like its two predecessors, Piano Textures III is essentially a solo piano album, with a smattering of environmental samples, some subtle synthesiser effects, and on one track some warm sympathetic cello. The music swims in a slightly reverberating space but the sound isn't as blurry and washed-out as, say, some of Budd's trippiest pieces. The slowest numbers - "Part I" "Part II" and the closing track - exist in kind of emotional twilight; neither dark nor light, reflective but not sad, steeped in mystery and quiet wonder. The spaces in between are as profound as the notes. "Part III" is more openly loving relaxed, an impressionist piece suggesting a sunlit grove or peaceful riverside . The fast, looping patterns of "Part IV" suggest wind or running water and also echo some of a Philip Glass film scores. "Part VII" meshes piano, harp and organ build a lovely, droning wall of sound.
Ambient Music Guide.com
Bruno Sanfilippo has impressed me once again with the release of his latest, Piano Textures 3.
The third installment in his ongoing series finds Sanfilippo in top form, beautiful soundscapes created through a series of delicately crafted piano pieces.
By turns haunting and intimate, "Piano Textures 3" proves once again that Sanfilippo is an incredibly gifted artist.
"Piano Textures 3" features eight textures masterfully played by Sanfilippo with all the skill and technique that his fans have grown to expect from him.
His playing is stunningly beautiful, magic from his hands that evokes rich imagery and emotions.
And as with the other albums in the series, Sanfilippo's piano is played with minimal effects or processing, allowing the music to flow unfiltered, letting the listener revel in its charms and beauty,
a natural showcase for Sanfilippo's abundant talents.
Trying to pick a favorite song on the album, even trying to describe them individually, is a challenge that I'm not up to as a writer, but suffice to say that "Piano Textures 3" is a wonderful and beautiful album that I will be listening to constantly for the foreseeable future.
At the very least until the release of another new album from Bruno Sanfilippo reminds me again how very much I enjoy his work.
La ricerca di benessere spirituale non è certo una novità nella musica, anzi per molti musicisti ne è stato lo scopo se non anche il punto di arrivo; tante le fonti su cui basarsi, tra le quali però un posto importante se lo sono guadagnati coloro che subdolamente hanno affrontato il problema cercando un afflato contemplativo partendo dal concetto di risonanza.
E' noto come il romanticismo ha azionato il motore di questa ricerca tra i suoni: prendendo in considerazione solo il pianoforte, di fatto tutta la letteratura romantica si costruì su variazioni di intensità che erano provocate non solo dalla forza di polsi e dita dei pianisti, ma anche dall'uso dei pedali; con il passaggio al novecento questi semplici mezzi sembravano già non più bastare e questo è chiaro non appena si pensi all'imponenza dei clusters pianistici di Cowell e dei post-modernisti americani o alle sfumature delle variazioni figurative di Scriabin o Debussy che prospettavano composizioni basate anche sulla necessità di riconoscere e configurare gradazioni di colore diverso in rapporto alla "tessitura" della musica; la risonanza divenne pietra angolare per pianisti come Satie che ne avevano compreso la portata ambigua indicando un percorso a due alternative: da una parte un evidente rincorsa nella ricerca di cristalizzazioni musicali che dessero un significato a sentimenti come la nostalgia o il ricordo*, dall'altra quella sorta di rivestimento (ameublement) della musica data dall'invariabilità delle strutture. Storicamente è risaputo che Satie non era particolarmente gradito all'intelligenza musicale del suo tempo, la quale non gradiva situazioni che presumibilmente potevano rivelarsi effimere, tant'è che il francese fu ripreso in considerazione solo circa 70 anni dopo grazie all'avvento di pianisti consequenziali come Harold Budd (nell'àmbito di un più ampia riscoperta fatta dal genere ambient) e quelli new age (che ne condividevano però anche l'aspetto del rilassamento); da lì è partita una generosa "inflazione" di quei suoni fatto di poche note, ridondanti, che ha coinvolto in larga scala le nuove generazioni di musicisti, specie europei, che hanno riconsegnato a popolarità un tessuto musicale che in fin dei conti mostrava uno status evocativo piuttosto consistente.
In maniera parallela si è quindi formata una schiera impressionante di pianisti devoti a questo riciclaggio, nella quale è veramente arduo trovare (aldilà del fattore originalità) delle dinamiche sonore che restino impresse nella nostra esperienza di ascoltatori: 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.
Tra coloro che hanno affrontato bene il problema vi rientra sicuramente l'argentino Bruno Sanfilippo, un musicista anomalo per il piano se preso in riferimento alla sua provenienza dal campo dell'elettronica e dei synths: Sanfilippo, infatti, di fianco ad un interessamento primario per l'elettronica di stampo ambientale e la musica concreta, ha avuto il coraggio e la voglia di misurarsi sull'argomento, componendo una triade di registrazioni come modulazioni di "textures" al pianoforte (oggi i tre volumi sono racchiusi anche in un'unica raccolta), alcuni con droni di accompagnamento, altri molto semplicemente senza (come succede nel terzo episodio pubblicato qualche mese fa).
"Texture 3" è il voluto inganno reso nella terminologia musicale per cui non si è di fronte a spinti modelli di complessità strumentale, poichè esso vuole mostrare l'innalzamento del livello "emotivo" delle costruzioni armoniche al piano: si tratta di una ricerca "purissima" di soluzioni in cui il quid deve passare da una efficacissima registrazione in cui tutte le note e tutte le pause devono essere portate al massimo grado di evidenziazione per rendere; se è vero che "Texture 3" quindi risolve ampiamente il problema di ottemperare all'esigenza di costruire qualcosa che sia di conforto generalizzato, è anche vero che i suoi sforzi in tal senso si stanno canalizzando in qualcosa che è estraneo alla pura generalizzazione, che possa seguire il suo senso di approccio alla materia; ed in tal senso vi invito ad ampliare l'ascolto delle tre "Textures" con un altro paio di registrazioni che Bruno ha effettuato con netlabels: mi riferisco a "Piano Texture Found" per Laverna in cui sotto presunte spoglie di brani bozza si sente tutto il sentimento potenziale dell'artista, e a i tre brani di "Impromptu" pubblicati liberamente su Bandcamp; quella di Sanfilippo è una visuale che timidamente si porta dentro i privilegi sviluppati nella concreta allorchè si serve di elementi "naturali" o di infiltrazioni elettroniche da rumore bianco; in questo modo, smussando gli echi convenzionali di piano e cello, io penso che non passerà molto tempo che Bruno riuscirà a tirar fuori il suo capolavoro nell'àmbito di questo moderno pianismo con tante parentele neoclassiche. Con il cuore c'è già!
Had a listener's only exposure to Bruno Sanfilippo come about through hearing his recent Hypnos recording Urbs, said listener would have identified him as an exceptionally refined sound-sculptor working in the electro-acoustic ambient field. But the classically trained Sanfilippo also issues minimalist piano recordings, of which Piano Textures 3 is a particularly impressive example; it's of course the third in a series (the first issued in 2007 and the second 2009), which can be purchased separately or in a lavish box set as a complete collection. It's a luscious album of many moods—more often than not melancholy, though not exclusively so—that finds his reverberant piano playing augmented with electronic tinting and outdoors field recordings (bird chirps, water sounds). During the beautifully sad fifth, Sanfilippo adds chamber string textures as complements to the lilting piano patterns. Sometimes such additions aren't necessary, however, as the piano playing would captivate perfectly well on its own without the accompanying sounds. The fourth setting exudes a bright, dance-like air that's Debussy-like, while the seventh pairs strums of the piano's inner strings with cascades that sparkle like rainfall. Sanfilippo's shimmering piano sound suggests that he might regard Harold Budd as a kindred spirit, even if the latter's style (especially on his early ambient classics) is gauzier.
Though Sanfilippo's been recording music for more than two decades, there's nothing jaded about the playing on Piano Textures 3, nothing to suggest that it's merely one more release to add to an ever-growing pile. Instead, Sanfilippo invests the eight untitled pieces with deep feeling, and the listener is often taken aback by the elegance and beauty of the material. There's some hint that the settings are largely rooted in improvisation; if so, the recording impresses even more because its harmonious pieces present themselves as formal compositions of distinct melodic character rather than directionless musings.
Bruno Sanfilippo is a multi-talented artist, capable of crossing genre borders with ease.
On his two latest releases, Urbs and Piano Textures 3, he shows two very different compositional sides–and both are superb in their own right.
I say, in all admiration, that this disc makes me want to pour a glass of very good wine and sit in contemplation while it plays. Sanfilippo offers up quiet and quite emotional ballads and the occasional neo-classical foray, all carrying the feeling of a gentleman simply sitting down at his piano and playing what he feels. His playing is crisp and clear, and he again shows that he understands the potency of a pause, letting notes ring down to quietness with no need to overfill the space. In places the pauses feel as though Sanfilippo is thinking about the next thing he wants to say, and the notes come only as he reaches that point. This is a very personal disc, and you won’t be able to help but respond to the range of feelings Sanfilippo takes you through. Although it clocks in at under an hour, the effect stays with you long after. This is a gorgeous, must-hear release, particularly for those who appreciate the clean sound of solo piano. Pick a wine, put the disc on, and listen.
The title leaves no room for surprises. This album is all about piano, and it's #3 in a series. (Those that want all of them may want to check out the box set including all three).
Bruno Sanfilippo , originally from Buenos Aires, but now living in Barcelona, is not exactly a newcomer in this musical area: he graduated the conservatory of Buenos Aires with a degree in musical composition (piano). This third part of Piano Textures follows the first two releases with the same title (2007/2009), but together these three releases are just a small part of his discography.
With the subtly added sound treatments, almost acting like a shadow of the piano sound itself, softly flowing and elegant, these tracks reminisce some of the best work of Harold Budd.
These eight compositions are all very melodious, never 'confronting', yet they indeed present different 'textures'. Compare, for example, tracks V, VI and VII: flowing from a new age-style cinematic theme to the sounds of a prepared piano, via a beautifully minimalistic (almost) one-chord composition with additional field recordings. To conclude: it's a beauty!
Bruno Sanfilippo ha estrenado hoy su nuevo álbum Piano Textures 3, tercero en la serie homónima de trabajos basados en piano con el que confirma, una vez más, su excelente técnica interpretativa y la belleza de sus composiciones.
Este nuevo trabajo de Sanfilippo reúne ocho exquisitas piezas de increible fuerza y elegancia en las que combina minimalismo y lírica en pasajes en los que el piano, sin ser el único instrumento presente, es la voz principal de las hermosas narraciones que se nos presentan en la obra.
Valedor de una gran expresividad frente a este instrumento, Bruno consigue provocar en esta obra múltiples estados emotivos gracias a sus sólidas melodías y sencillas atmósferas para las que en ciertos momentos se ayuda, además, de grabaciones de campo, efectos e instrumentación clásica.
En una línea similar a la de sus anteriores encarnaciones, Piano Textures 3 es un trabajo magnífico, de una una enorme calidad y belleza que, a mi juicio, queda incluso por encima de los otros volúmenes de esta serie, lo cual ya era difícil. Pienso que este trabajo será recordado como una de las obras más significativas del autor argentino.
The third installment of "Piano Textures" has became a reality during September 2012. I won't say anything new when describing Bruno Sanfilippo, in Argentina born, but residing in Barcelona, Spain, as one of the leading figures of the ambient movement in Europe. Released not only as a solo digipak CD, but also as one third of elegantly packaged "Piano Textures" Box Set along with digipak reissues of previous two chapters, "Piano Textures 1" and "Piano Textures 2". Looking for some nice collector's item? This might be one of your choices for sure!!!
Anyway, let's explore now the atmospheres of "Piano Textures 3", which consists of 8 parts entitled "Piano Textures". The album unfolds soothingly with minimal, but expressive piano tune backed by captivating natural sounds of bird calls or cow bells. It's no secret that Bruno Sanfilippo is enormously gifted piano player, who studied at The Galvani Conservatory in Buenos Aires with a degree in musical composition. And Bruno Sanfilippo truly excels at his filigree piano playing!!! "Piano Textures 3 II" is deeply intimate and evocative composition hazed by the clouds of profound sadness and nostalgia. Deliberately serene and touching!!! Warm piano ambience invade "Part III" and floats smoothly through various passages, ranging from more melodious and illuminating to more quiet and contemplative with strong cinematic feel, what a beauty!!! "Part IV" blends euphorically swirling phases with more intense, throughout saturated by distant natural sounds. Beautifully sad "Part V" immerses deeply each listener with its emotionally rich piano texture, weeping cello sounds and tranquil ocean waves, at the end joined by child's voices. This composition impresses utterly with its nostalgia, intimacy and warmness. Long forgotten memories are awakening, another masterpiece!!! Beautifully relaxing moods are all over the next piece, "Part VI", this time restful and fragile piano is strongly flavored by myriad of forest birds chirping and few kids voices and dog barks. Towards the end few harsher scrapings à la "Urbs" appear as well. And some of these sharper outbursts and low deep sounds can be explored also on "Part VII", with sort of cacophonous intro that is soon softened by euphorically shimmering and lush piano. I like so much the interplay of harsher and velvety parts, it might sound quite perplexing, but the overall feel remains always very sensitive and poignant. Sparsely elegant and strikingly picturesque piano texture of "Part VIII" is again carefully enriched by few nostalgic cello sounds to complete this grand finale composition. Freely meandering and dreamlike, absolutely gracious and gorgeous!!!
"Piano Textures 3" is a lyrical performance at its most virtuoso!!! It's absolutely thrilling to witness how Bruno Sanfilippo demonstrates his amazing versatility within ambient genre, always marked with highly sophisticated approach and equipped with massive potential. Without any doubt, he is one of the giants in the genre, a composer of great artistry and talent, because otherwise he wouldn't be able to reach this challenging and refined quality. Bravissimo, Maestro, and muchas gracias for all your sonic pearls, I am deeply honored to collect them!!!