Artist. Stefano Guzzetti
Label. Stella recordings
Cat. ID. SR02CD
Format. Four panel vinyl replica gatefold CD with eight pages booklet (purchase)
Release date. March 28th, 2016 (exclusive to Europe and USA)
01. Womb (3:04)
02. While you sleep (3:14)
03. All our days (4:02)
04. Psalm in A minor (6:24)
05. Mother (3:20)
06. Shoreline (3:48)
07. Feather (1:39)
08. Waiting (3:26)
09. Quiet fracture (4:52)
10. Sospesa (3:29)
11. Saliva (4:10)
12. Silently leaving (5:10)
13. To the end (2:10)
Stefano Guzzetti. Piano, glockenspiel, field recordings, sine waves
Simone Soro. Violin
Francesco Pilia. Viola
Gianluca Pischedda. Cello
Sebastiano Dessanay. Double bass
Lorenzo Baldoni. Clarinet
Written, scored and produced by Stefano Guzzetti from January to May 2014
Mastered in spring 2015 by Ian Hawgood
Art direction: Vaughan Oliver at v23
Design: Vaughan Oliver and Ivan Katsarov
Art: Claudia Pomowski
A big thank you to Ivo Watts-Russell for sequencing this album in such a beautiful way and to Shinsaku Ohsaki for kindness and collaboration
Published by Mute Song Ltd. / Fuji Pacific Music, Inc.
All tracks copyright protected. All rights reserved.
(P) + (C) 2016 Stella recordings under exclusive license to Inpartmaint Inc.
EAN/UPC Barcode. 4532813535616
Textura (april 2016)
As exquisite as Stefano Guzzetti’s last release, 2015’s Ensemble (Stella Recordings), is, Leaf might be even more so; it certainly captures the pianist-composer’s music having reached an extremely high level of refinement. The approach on Leaf, which he wrote and produced over a five-month stretch in early 2014, isn’t radically different from that taken on the earlier collection: the pianist, also credited with glockenspiel, field recordings, and sine waves, is accompanied by a string trio—violinist Simone Soro, violist Francesco Pilia, and cellist Gianluca Pischedda—plus clarinetist Lorenzo Baldoni and double bassist Sebastiano Dessanay on thirteen concise settings strong on appeal. As direct as the music is the concept underpinning the work, the idea that the leaves on the trees, being so omnipresent and ubiquitous, tend to recede from view yet when studied up close mesmerize with intricate webs of detail. The not-so-subtle point is that attention is key, and mindfulness and humility, too. Of course, no pondering of such ideas is necessary for the music to be enjoyed; Guzzetti’s sensual soundworld offers no shortage of pleasure to the listener hungry for accessible chamber classical music. Appropriately the album begins with the composer’s elegiac piano heard against a backdrop of bird chatter, prompting one to visualize a leafy nature setting. On a typical track, Guzzetti’s piano acts as the melodic nucleus around which the other instruments cluster, whether it be strings, clarinet, or glockenspiel. “Psalm in A minor” effectively highlights his estimable talents as an arranger in the way it offsets the strings with the contrasting timbres of the clarinet and double bass. “Mother,” on the other hand, stands out for largely restricting its plaintive material to strings, piano reduced to accents only. While there’s nothing to indicate it’s intended as such, “All Our Days” could easily pass for a homage by the composer to Yann Tiersen, so emblematic are its chiming piano patterns of the latter’s style. Being so melodically strong, Guzzetti’s music holds up perfectly well without embellishment; consequently, the modest number of instrumental voices featured in these chamber arrangements is all that’s required to convey the essence of his compositional style, and though electronic treatments surface in a couple of places (e.g., “Silently Leaving,” with its pronounced reverberation effects), the album rarely strays from its acoustic presentation. Abundantly melodic and generally sweetly melancholic in temperament, Guzzetti’s luscious music envelops the listener in folds of elegance on this consistently satisfying forty-seven-minute outing.
SoWhat (8 marzo 2016)
Melodie intime che disegnano tenui bozzetti primaverili, in bilico tra un’accogliente luminosità e un nostalgico romanticismo compongono il nuovo lavoro di Stefano Guzzetti, pubblicato dalla sua etichetta Stella Recordings (in versione cd), in collaborazione con la label belga Brooklyn Bridge Records (che stamperà la versione in vinile) e la Home Normal (per la versione digitale). Dismesso lo pseudonimo Waves On Canvas e con esso la sua dimensione elettronica, il musicista sardo continua a tracciare il suo nuovo percorso artistico all’insegna di un pianismo emozionale che sempre più trova la sua naturale completezza in una coralità che ne esalta le doti compositive. Le note del suo strumento tendono a scorrere leggere disegnando fluide trame dinamiche che si fondono alla perfezione alle preziose tessiture degli archi, creando le atmosfere quieti e avvolgenti che caratterizzano brani quali “While you sleep”, “Shoreline” e “Saliva” e che a tratti virano verso un maggiore senso di rarefazione (“Feather”, “To the end”) dando vita a momenti di toccante lirismo che trovano l’apice nella cristallina e bellezza di “Silently leaving”. Non mancano passaggi più grevi, permeati da una marcata e struggente malinconia in cui gli archi salgono in cattedra divenendo assoluti protagonisti (“Psalm in A Minor”, “Mother”). I suoni sintetici e le riprese ambientali restano presenti come corollario che emerge sporadicamente a rifinire le preziose e vivide istantanee impressionistiche ma ricche di dettagli, che compongono il suggestivo universo di “Leaf”. (Peppe Trotta)
A Closer Listen (2016 march 4th)
Mere months after the review of Stefano Guzzetti‘s last album comes the review of another, this one more springlike in nature but no less lovely. As the birds precede the piano, and the piano precedes the strings, so do the strings precede the warmer weather that many are yearning to enjoy. A concert tour featuring many related artists also accompanies the release. Guzzetti’s orchestral compositions sway in the breeze like thin branches waiting for buds to bloom. At the end of “Womb,” a dog shakes its leash, ready to go outside. The glockenspiel of “While you sleep” introduces an even brighter timbre, offset by the mature entrance of the cello: like the same dog seeking to dart around the park, restrained by the steering (yet wise) voice of its master. “Saliva” is particularly sweet, colored by the clarinet of Lorenzo Baldoni, which withdraws mid-piece along with the strings to allow the piano to guide the listener gracefully to its conclusion. For the most part the album flows well ~ the liner notes even thank the sequencer. Yet there are still a few incongruences. The first is a battle of themes, as the album title seems to imply one thing and the track titles another. The second is a late-album track (9 of 13) that introduces a shaker noise at 3:29, followed by sharp bursts of laughter. Light dissonance at the end of the subsequent track continues to disturb. This is not a problem if the album is played as foreground music, yet becomes a problem if the album is meant to aid rest, or study, or romance. This being said, we’re talking about only two minutes out of nearly fifty. The buoyant closer “To the end” restores Leaf‘s sense of solemn beauty, beating back the dissonance like the green dispelling the grey. (Richard Allen)
Rockerilla. (n.427 – Marzo 2016)
Poco più di tre quarti d’ora di incontaminate emozioni sui tasti del pianoforte: è l’ultima e più sentita creazione di Stefano Guzzetti, consolidato interprete di un neoclassicismo ormai convintamente abbracciato dopo aver condotto il progetto elettronico Waves on Canvas. Pubblicato dapprima in Giappone, Leaf è un album di semplice ma toccante coinvolgimento, realizzato affiancando al pianoforte un mutevole ensemble di archi e un clarinetto, e ripartito in tredici concisi episodi, presentati in una sequenza curata da Ivo Watts-Russell. Come suggerisce il titolo, da sensazioni passeggere e oggetti in apparenza insignificanti l’artista sardo ricava un’incantevole teoria di palpitanti miniature cameristiche. (Raffaello Russo)
Headphone Commute (2016 august 5th)
Sometimes modern classical music is difficult to write about. Take away the descriptions of the closely mic’d piano, the elemental background of the violins, the pensive pace and melancholy mood, and you are left with just… music. Music that at some point was born inside musician’s mind, and slowly stewed and burned until it had to be put down in notes, and played through hands and keys and strings and hammers. And yet, each piece is not the same; each artist a unique representation of their world, captured through the intricate details of what makes up their life, however brief, however poignant. What then is music if not the bare essence of the artist’s soul, the very depth of which they choose to open? And in this space, that we together share, as a performer and a listener, we actively let go, and drown… Sardinia (Italy) based composer, Stefano Guzzetti, made a brief appearance on my radar back in 2014, when Ian Hawgood’s Home Normal label released his At Home. Piano Book Volume 1 debut. Alas, the second volume never arrived, but Guzzetti continued to publish music on his very own Stella Recordings: see Ensemble (2015) and 春を待っています (2016). This year, after a brief appearance on Home Normal’s 050316 compilation, documenting the concert series based in the UK (which he shares with Christoph Berg, Danny Norbury and Ian Hawgood himself), Guzzetti releases Leaf.
“Seen from a distance, a leaf is just a little piece of green; small and unrelevant like one of the thousands days of an entire life. But if we get closer and pay more attention, a bigger world will disclose to us, revealing inner structures and paths, some wider and strong, some others thin and frail. Like our everydays actions and events we stumble on. Everything could happen in a sudden, making us realize we’re nothing compared to nature’s plans. In the end we’re little delicate things. Like leaves.”
Accompanied by the violinist Simone Soro, violist Francesco Pilia, and cellist Gianluca Pischedda, as well as Sebastiano Dessanay on the double bass and Lorenzo Baldoni on the clarinet, Guzzetti weaves a neo classical score of cinematic beauty. Leaf is less solemn that some of the contemporary recordings of solo piano, chamber, and modern classical pieces, and is at times uplifting in its major scale, creating a beautiful soundtrack for a sunny Sunday morning (as opposed to rainy Monday nights). Add to that the concept described in the quote above, and one begins to view the world (and hear the music) through a slightly different lens of being. The overall feeling that stays long after the music is gone is that of impermanence, scale, and ultimately perspective on all the things around us (and inside us), and yet it’s not entirely a sad affair, but rather that of peace and hope. If this is your first exposure to Guzzetti, get used to seeing his name. With Leaf, he signs a publishing deal with Mute Song Ltd., this album being released in Japan by P*Dis / Inpartmaint Inc. and the EU and US editions by Stella and digital by Home Normal. Guzzetti has also recently released a new single on 1631 Recordings, titled The Kiss, which has been featured on the new Piano Cloud Series – Volume Two compilation along with Federico Albanese, Clem Leek, Antonymes, Sophie Hutchings and yours truly (*blush*). Outside of my slightly partial interest to introduce you to the many artist I share the catalog with, I feel that you will truly enjoy this gem once it enters your ears, and finally your soul. (Mike Lazarev)
Stefano Guzzetti – Escape (music for a ballet) / Leaf / Waiting for Spring
December 21, 2016 ~ Brian Housman
Another release not to be missed is Leaf which Guzzetti actually composed in the first half of 2014 and was mastered by Ian Hawgood (Home Normal) in 2015 before seeing a Japanese-only release at the start of the year. This was followed in March by an edition with completely new design by Vaughan Oliver and Ivan Katsarov and featuring lavish artwork by Claudia Pomowski. Absent of percussion and electronics, Leaf is a more romantic and effusive affair, a gorgeous collection that should captivate any fan of modern classical music from start to finish. The middle sequence of “Mother”, “Shoreline”, and “Feather” is especially sublime. Leaf comes in an elaborate vinyl-replica gatefold CD edition featuring artwork by renowned British graphic designer Vaughan Oliver. (note: the album also saw an earlier release exclusive to Japan via P*Dis).