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.