In this beautiful duo album by two of Italy’s most creative musicians, roles are frequently overturned, as lyrical percussion shades into electronics and texture turns to melody. Stefano Battaglia reminds us that the piano is also a percussion instrument and Michele Rabbia is sensitive to all the tonal implications of drums and cymbals. The musicians play with and without scores in material that is variously open-form, tightly-controlled, inspired by folk idioms, by liturgical music and by art installations. Battaglia allows beautiful themes to ripple through the work, and sounds are given room to blossom.
Italian pianist and composer Stefano Battaglia has recorded three previous offerings for ECM, all in different settings. Interestingly, The River of Anyder is his first to feature his trio, with bassist Salvatore Maiore and drummer/percussionist Roberto Dani. Battaglia, formerly a classical pianist, approaches composition and improvisation from that vantage point. When he does enter the jazz realm, it is through Italy's own grand jazz tradition from the '70s era on.
Italian pianist Stefano Battaglia and his trio develop directions established on their acclaimed 2011 release “The River of Anyder” with a new selection of chants, hymns and dances, all written by Battaglia and inspired by descriptions of visionary places from art and literature – from Alfred Kubin, Jonathan Swift or Charles Fourier to Italo Calvino. “Songways” finds “a new harmonic balance between archaic modal pre-tonal chant and dances, pure tonal songs and hymns and abstract texture,” Battgalia says, “thus documenting the natural development of the Trio life, with a larger space for action from the drums”.
The research by Stefano Battaglia and that of Michele Rabbia share training ( classical for both) , the sensual attraction for jazz , a love of classical music of the ' 900 , which extend in particular to two of the big issues which moves the musical evolution : I'm referring to the world of sound , the quest for its expansion and the theme of improvisation.
This is an interesting title in the wake of the notion that Stefano Battaglia composed most of these pieces and has performed them on earlier recordings – both solo and with various groups – and that Tony Oxley is such a renowned improviser…
Stefano Battaglia plays both piano and prepared piano (sometimes simultaneously) in a highly attractive double-album programme that includes his own compositions and spontaneous improvisations as well as two versions of the Arabic traditional song “Lamma Bada Yatathanna”. The melodic and texturally-inventive pieces, some of almost hypnotic allure, were recorded both in concert and in “closed doors” sessions at the Fazoli Concert Hall in Sacile, Italy, in May 2016, and subsequently arranged into what Battaglia describes as “a wonderful new shape with a completely new dramaturgy” by producer Manfred Eicher.