Gianluigi Trovesi

All'opera Profumo di Violetta
ECM 2068

Emphasizing the streak of romanticism which characterizes nearly every Italian instrumentalist – no matter how avant-garde – multi-woodwind player Gianluigi Trovesi interprets a series of familiar operatic airs. Backed by the wind and percussion Filarmonica Mousiké, the veteran improviser fashions an original take on 17th, 18th and 19th Century themes by Monteverdi Cazzati, Pergolesi, Verdi, Puccini, Rossini and Mascagni without jazzing up or burlesquing them.

Making full use of the luscious crescendos and cushioning timbres available from the 54-piece orchestra, the only additions are cellist Marco Remondini and percussionist Stefano Bertoli to enhance the rhythmic impetus. Taking the role of operatic vocalist, Trovesi produces a fantastic series of glissandi, portamento runs and just plain beautiful playing, using at different junctures all his horns – piccolo and alto clarinets plus alto saxophone. Nearly always playing legato, he emphasizes the emotional and melodic undercurrents of these pieces without ignoring their poignant roots.

Mixing world famous and obscure parts of the opera repertoire, these arrangements interweave the popular airs – which the clarinetist has loved since his childhood near Bergamo – with improvisational freedom. Listeners familiar with standards such as Verdi’s “E Piquillo un bel gaglardo” and Rossini’s “Largo al factotum” will marvel at how Trovesi’s re-interpretations refresh them. More remarkable is how well Trovesi’s own compositions – such as “Salterello amoroso” with him spluttering smooth Johnny Hodges-like timbres atop contrapuntal orchestra lines, or “Vesponse”, a big-band swing piece enlivened with reed split tones and shrills – fit among these traditional tunes without disruption.

— Ken Waxman

— For Whole Note Vol.14 #7