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Monday, November 8, 2010

Pierluigi Potalivo - Spirito Di Una Sonata

Pierluigi Potalivo - Spirito Di Una Sonata
2010, Pierluigi Potalivo

Pierluigi Potalivo is a native of Rome, Italy; a classical guitarist with a serious pedigree.  His guitar teacher, Sergio Notaro was taught by none other than AndrĂ©s Segovia, who is essentially responsible for what we think of as "classical guitar" today.  Potalivo went on to earn a Diploma from the St. Cecilia Conservatoire.  Potalivo grew into a musical/philosophical shift born of a desire to both pay homage to the composers he's played as well as dialogue with them by reinterpreting and sometimes re-creating their masterpieces.    This approach, available only to those with finely honed skills in an instrument, leads Potalivo to take established classical compositions and reinterpret them with an artist's ear.  This is the crux of Potalivo's album Spirito Di Una Sonata.

While speaking of perfection in a review is always something of a risk, it's not a stretch to say that Potalivo's performances throughout Spirito Di Una Sonata are technically perfect.  Potalivo sets his own pace throughout, using the entire sound stage (so to speak) for expansive phrasing and dramatic effect.  Potalivo opens with the four movements of Maurio Giuliani's Sonata, Op. 15: The Spirit Of A Sonata.    "Allegro" brims with life and shows masterful skill.  Potalivo manipulates his way through a musically and emotionally complex series of phrases to craft an organic whole that is more than the sum of its parts.  "Adagio" follows a classic arc, moving from pensive and broodingly dark passages to bright and airy runs before returning whence it came.  The melody, as expressed by Potalivo, is lovely even in its darker moments.  "Scherzo" thrives on a nervous energy run through the with aura of necessity and need.  The technical aspects of Potalivo's play are brilliant, and his emotional impact through tension and phrasing are nothing less.  Potalivo's pick work here is blinding, leaving all but the most accomplished guitarists in awe.  "Rondon In C" finds Potalivo instilling a tremendous sense of movement with an improvisational air; almost as if he's engaging in a series of variations rather than a loose but loving interpretation.

 The rest of the album is a work entitled Five Possible Moments: A Program Of Hispanic Forgeries.  In the process, Potalivo offers situational interpretations of Claude Debussy, Federico Mompou, Fernando Sor, Antonio Lauro and Joaquin Turina.  “Studio (Fernando Sor spies Debussy)” is a brief interlude; pensive and reticent, Potalivo introduces a certain and insecurity here.  “Cancion (Federico Mompou thinks of Albeniz)” is meandering; sad and full of regret at the beginning.  Potalivo lifts the veil and sunshine shines through partway through the song.  Potalivo builds the melody line in strength and presence before returning to the songs darker elements in an arc very similar to that heard in “Adagio”.  “Tarantas (Joaquin Turina recalls a Gypsy’s Chant)” is an enjoyable diversion into flamenco guitar that’s reserved and polished.  In one of those quiet musical moments that turns that turn into something greater, Potalivo uses exquisite phrasing and presence to bring magic out of the moment.  “Tarantella (Antonio Lauro the Venezuelan returns to Naples)” is a slow halting affair that slowly grows into a mesmerizing swirl on notes.  Potalivo closes with “Burlesca (Fernando Sor mocks his own ‘ways’)”.  Potalivo continues the circular compositional style but this time with a joyful feel.

It is common to find guitar players who are technically superior but lack heart.  Players who are all heart but lack the technical chops to truly excel are even more common.  Pierluigi Potalivo owes much to his teaching, but he has taken the technical skill learned over years of study and melded it with a fine ear and an empathic sensibility that helps him get to the heart of the composers’ intent.  Unlike many musicians, Potalivo has never been quite satisfied with simply giving listeners the original, treating each original composition as a living, breathing organism rather than a sacrosanct creation.  The result is the wisdom of the masters blended with the inspiration of the life-long student who reveres those who came before but is advanced enough to hold his place in conversation with legends.  Spirito Di Una Sonata id a musical dialectic; a Socratic debate where illumination is achieved.

Rating: 5 Stars (Out of 5)

Pierluigi Potalivo doesn't have an offical web presence, but you can purchase Spirito Di Una Sonata in digital form from CDBaby.

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