Escape (music for a ballet)

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Label. Stella Recordings
Cat. ID. SR05CD
Format. Limited edition handmade CD – 200 copies (purchase)
Release date. October 21st, 2016

01. Leaving (4:28)
02. Watermusic (4:51)
03. Hope (4:51)
04. Understars (5:12)
05. Adrift (4:45)
06. Undine (3:57)
07. Descent (4:26)
08. Acceptance (4:35)

Personnel.
Stefano Guzzetti. Piano, glockenspiel, programming
Simone Soro. Violin
Giulia Dessy. Viola
Gianluca Pischedda. Cello
Francesco Sergi. Double bass
Sara Ambu. Flute

Written, produced and mastered by Stefano Guzzetti in spring and summer 2016. These pieces were commissioned for the ‘Escape’ aerial dance performance by LCP Dance Theatre – London.

Thanks to Simone, Giulia, Gianluca, Francesco and Sara for playing for me, Francesca for hospitality, Mario for his wonderful art, Joanna for involving me in this special project, Bernd, Eugenio, Francesco, Enrico, Giulia, Ivo, John-Mark and Ian for lending their ears, Tania for listening during the mixing sessions. Special thanks to Stephen McCauley for his enthusiastic support.

Packaging, sleeve design and manufacturing by Stefano Guzzetti. All artwork featured in this release was created and kindly provided by Mario Fois. Package front sleeve: ‘Abyssal monster #002’, booklet front sleeve: ‘Abyssal monster #004’, booklet inner picture: ‘Abyssal monster #001’.

Published by Mute Song Ltd. All tracks copyright protected.

A Stella Recordings product.

For Tania | my wife.

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Blow Up (n.224 – Gennaio 2017)
Il cagliaritano Guzzetti ha alle spalle studi di Conservatorio (elettronica), musiche per documentari e film (La nostra quarantena di Peter Marcias) e pubblicazioni di buona rilevanza (un sampler di The Wire, recentemente un contratto con la Mute). E si sente: la sua musica elettronica neo-classicheggiante-romantica (piano, archi, battiti percussivi) è molto evocativa e perfetta per accompagnare immagini – in questo caso immagini / corpi in movimento, anche se forse immaginari. Un passo sotto sarebbe ambient e uno sopra techno: una bella prova (Adrift è magnifica) ma da valutare in un contesto appropriato. (Stefano Isidoro Bianchi). 

Higher Plain Music (2017 january 6th)
The beauty of being a composer of many instruments is that you can have a wide palette at your disposal and Stefano Guzzetti is a perfect example of someone who enjoys flexing his creative muscles alongside his melodic ones. “Escape” is a string drenched album that is able to convey a lot in under just under 40 minutes but it is an audio escape I recommend. “Leaving” is euphoric and uplifting. From the percussive opening to the full layered string arrangement by the end, you’ll be swept up in something that could easily score a sci-fi film’s launch sequence. The melodies aren’t huge and complex, but they flow perfectly when each layer is added and that’s the secret to Guzzetti’s success throughout the album. “Watermusic” is like the musical equivalent of watching a blue whale majestically glide underwater as its simple piano underscore lets long, drawn string strokes float peacefully from ear to ear. The flute and the echoed effects are great touches and add a great scale to things. “Hope” meanwhile kicks off with a heartbeat that speeds up to a cute skipping beat that allows the mild electronica side of Stefano break out for a disco string arrangement. I always appreciate it when two sides of music collide in an unusual fashion and this works really well as it lacks bass and is focused on the emotional delivery of the piece. “Understars” is a companion piece for Hope but more focused on keyboards than strings for the most part. “Adrift” resets the tone to something more sombre with Bjork-vespertine like percussion, which has been flirted with throughout, really hitting home here. The kicker is the prepared piano joining in for the final third of the track as it gives an evil HAL style to proceedings and is possibly my favourite track from the album. “Undine” is just as beautiful though. It’s rolling piano arpeggios are divine and slightly distorted as other instruments come in to back up the drama. I immediately think of the Gravity and Oblivion soundtracks although it’s only similar in tone and arrangement. The tracks themselves were actually composed for a ballet and I can completely see the correlation with all the skipping beats and piano flurries. One of the more straight to strings piece is “Descent” which is thick and full of emotion and we leave the album with “Acceptance” which is a heartfelt but positive affirmation of piano and strings. The piano specifically here is programmed and played like church bells for me and so with the keys ringing out as they slide down the chords, and the strings being deliberately slow – it has a majestic ending to bow out too. Escape has purpose. Each track is fully rounded and standalone unlike many soundtrack-like experiences and whilst made for ballet, this is the kind of music sci-fi movies are crying out for. Give this man a film score – I’d love to see what he does. If you missed this album at the back-end of 2016, make sure it’s one of your early 2017 purchases. (Simon Smith)

Stationary Travels (2016 december 21st)
Ensconced in the azure blue waters of the Mediterranean and surrounded by fabulous cities such as Rome, Naples, Barcelona, Valencia, and Marseille, one is tempted to imagine a blissfully idyllic existence on the island of Sardinia, but it is home to one of the most industrious and prolific modern classical on the scene today in Stefano Guzzetti. In addition to scores & sound design for short films, applications, and video games, he has put out 3 full-length releases in 2016, the most recent being Escape (music for a ballet), which features music he composed for the ‘Escape’ aerial dance performance by LCP Dance Theatre performed in London and at Edinburgh Fringe Festival. As a result of positive feedback from those shows, he edited and distilled the music into shorter pieces suitable for an album-like listening experience and offered them in an eye-catching CD package. The incandescent colors of the stunning artwork by Mario Fois matches the vibrant quality of the music so rich in eloquent melodies and dynamic rhythms and enhanced by electronics which hearken back to Guzzetti’s earlier recordings under the moniker Waves on Canvas. This energy is tempered by dramatic undercurrent suitable to the theme of the dance, which is meant to draw awareness to human rights by depicting a refugee’s journey through “struggle, despair and the search for freedom”. Even without the visual narrative, Escape makes for poignant and compelling listening and ultimately soars with its transcendent beauty. ’Escape (music for a ballet)’ is available from Guzzetti’s own Stella Recordings in a limited hand-made & numbered CD edition (200 copies) which includes three postcards, a four page booklet, and a download all sealed in original Japanese vinyl-replica-cd pvc bags. A digital only edition is also available. Additonal musicians featured on the record are Simone Soro (violin), Giulia Dessy (viola), Gianluca Pischedda (cello), Francesco Sergi (double bass), and Sara Ambu (flute).
(Brian Housman)

Pastel Records
Stefano Guzzetti「Escape(music for a ballet)」~懐かしさ、憂鬱と希望といった心模様を反映させたポストクラシカル作 /// 今年(2016年)、日本にも来日し、ピアノによる美しい叙情を聴かせてくれた、イタリア・サルデーニャ島の作曲家/ピアニスト、Stefano Guzzetti(ステファノ・グッツェッテイ)。「Leaf」に続く今年2枚目のオリジナル作品は、ロンドンのダンスカンパニー、LCP Dance Theatreの作品「Escape」のためのスコアを、自身の作品として作り直したもの。LCPは、人権問題への意識が高い、ダンスカンパニーで、舞台芸術を通じて、不平等と世界中の人権侵害についての問題を取り扱った作品で評価を得ています。今回の「Escape」は、難民の社会的、政治的、心理的な課題を扱った作品で、音楽を、Stefano Guzzettiが担当しています。文字情報だけですと、とても重~い作風のイメージを持ってしまうのですが、そんなイメージを覆すような、彼の繊細な描写と軽やかに躍動するリズム、そして情感溢れるメロディーに、自然と引き込まれてしまう素晴らしい内容となっています。ヴァイオリン、チェロ、ヴィオラ、コントラバスによるストリングス、ピアノ、フルートをメインとした楽器構成は、これまでと特に変化はないのですが、今作では、積極的に、Waves On Canvasの頃を彷彿とさせる、IDMなデジタルビートが織り込まれている楽曲が多く聴くことができます。劇的な変化というものはないのですが、ここで聴かれるサウンドは、Waves On Canvas時のような、平面的なサウンドを敷きつめたような印象だった、エレクトロニカサウンド寄りの作品とはまた違う、ある意味、Stefano Guzzettiの作曲/構成力の飛躍を実感できるものとなっています。1曲目の”Leave”から、ブラシのようなもので刻まれるリズムに合わせ、ストリングスやフルートの調べや、電子音、軽やかなビートとともにしなやかにスタートする本作。ある一定の旋律を繰り返す作風なのですが、Stefano Guzzettiのメロディーに含まれる情感によって、人の心を底から自然に揺さぶっていく。Stefano Guzzetti名義の作品にはなかった、デジタルプログラミングが織り込まれている部分に耳を奪われがちですが、序盤ではしっとりと聴かせる”Watermusic”、人間の心臓の鼓動を表したような”Hope”、中盤以降はストリングスの重厚感がより増してゆき、最後の”Acceptance”では、困難に直面する現実をそれでも希望を持って受け入れてゆく意思が、楽曲/演奏から優しく強く伝わってきます。必ずしもコマーシャルな聴きやすさだけではない表現方法の多彩さとともに、懐かしさ、憂鬱と希望といった心模様を上手く反映させています。CDは、『Ensemble』と同様、ハンドメイド・パッケージとなっていて、ポストカード、アルバムの収録曲や、ポストカードのアートワークのPDFがダウンロードできるクーポンなどを封入した丁寧なものとなっています。限定200枚です。

Musicwontsaveyou (30 novembre 2016)
La sfaccettata personalità artistica di Stefano Guzzetti e in particolare i suoi trascorsi elettronici come Waves On Canvas trovano pieno riscontro nelle peculiarità del suo profilo di compositore di coinvolgenti partiture per pianoforte e archi, come nei recenti “Ensemble” e “Leaf”. L’approccio istintivo dell’artista sardo ricorre intatto e anzi ulteriormente amplificato in “Escape”, colonna sonora commissionatagli dalla compagnia di ballo del LCP Dance Theatre londinese, realizzata secondo modalità che distinguono con decisione Guzzetti dai numerosi compositori neoclassici cimentatisi con una pratica simile. Piuttosto che circoscrivere il respiro dei propri brani al solo minimalismo, Guzzetti ha inteso dare ai suoi brani respiro, dinamiche e movimento, funzionali del resto alla finalità alla quale sono destinati. Così, spire di ariosi filtraggi sintetici avvolgono gli archi, che a loro volta dialogano con spunti pianistici dalle movenze sinuose; l’ambience elettrica che ne risulta è inizialmente imponente, animata quasi da una solennità da kolossal, ma nel corso delle otto tracce di “Escape” va via digradando tra sospensioni e linee armoniche più placide e soffuse, che dischiudono il cuore pulsante delle composizioni di Guzzetti, artista in grado come pochi altri di interpretare il neoclassicismo come vera e propria fuga dagli intellettualismi accademici, dando sfogo alle dinamiche più emozionali di fluide interazioni sonore… a corpo libero. (Raffaello Russo)

A Closer Listen (2016 november 22nd)
With Escape (music for a ballet), composer/pianist Stefano Guzzetti completes the hat trick of having three releases reviewed at ACL in one year, a rarity for our site. His music continues to be engaging, and the handmade packaging from Stella Recordings continues to entice. Once again, Guzzetti has gathered a stellar team of players, this time including string trio, bass and flute. But here his music is composed for a (literally) higher cause ~ an aerial dance performance by London’s LCP Dance Theatre. Before we go any further, let’s take a sneak peek at the performance. The movements are fluid, images of air superimposed with those of water. The performers flow with the music, riding its currents like wind or wave. Together, it’s a perfect fit. The occasional percussion only adds to the sense that everything is in control. One can dance to “Leaving” on the ground; or one can dance in the sky. On paper, the aerial act sounds dangerous; in person, the thrill comes from the beauty, not the height. But of course there are other tempos, and other ways to dance. The album soon slows, growing more romantic in its center. Without percussion, the ensemble swoons and sways, ever in control. The heartbeat thump of “Hope” is visceral in nature, a reminder of the bodies involved; the bell tones of “Understars” add a hint of holiness. One begins to think of the words “height” and “escape” in spiritual terms, the aerial aspect a metaphor for yearnings and imaginings. Through it all, Guzzetti’s tones comfort and inspire, as if to say, set your minds on higher things. After such contemplations, the album returns to the dramatic heights of the opener. “Descent” offers a late highlight, the title seemingly ironic. The strings seem to mourn, as if falling short of some distant shore. Yet a happy ending is never in doubt. Already the presence of beauty has turned mourning into gladness. By “Acceptance”, the composer, the listeners, and (we suspect) the dancers have made their peace. The final notes offer closure. Even if the escape is only temporary, the respite remains a reason for thanksgiving. (Richard Allen)

So What (9 Novembre 2016)
Non è certo un compito semplice provare a raccontare il percorso emotivo di un rifugiato alla ricerca di una nuova vita, ma la musica quando segue l’ispirazione può riuscire a tradurre in suono qualsiasi sentimento. “Escape” di Stefano Guzzetti, composto per l’omonimo spettacolo di aerial dance della compagnia londinese LCP Dance Theatre, indaga appunto questo processo di graduale e spesso traumatico cambiamento. I diversi momenti individuati dalle otto tracce del disco sono narrati attraverso raffinate composizioni cameristiche inclini ad un’armoniosa coralità, che si fondono con somma naturalezza alla ritrovata componente elettronica che permeava gli esordi del musicista sardo sotto la sigla Waves on Canvas e che gradualmente erano rimasti confinati ad un ruolo marginale nei precedenti lavori. Il flusso risultante si snoda lieve tra cinematiche e luminose tessiture cadenzate a tratti da dinamiche linee ritmiche (“Leaving”, “Hope”) e trame intrise di nostalgico romanticismo in cui torna protagonista l’intenso dialogo carico di emozionale enfasi tra il pianoforte e gli archi (“Watermusic”, “Undine”). A mantenersi invariato durante il viaggio è il pathos che sgorga dalle melodie e che mantiene intensamente coinvolti fino alla toccante chiusura di “Acceptance”. “Escape” conferma ancora una volta le doti di raffinato compositore di Guzzetti, capace qui di trovare un equilibrio prezioso tra le differenti istanze che hanno caratterizzato il suo variegato percorso artistico. (Peppe Trotta)

Rockerilla (n.435 – Novembre 2016)
Settembre 2010, mi ritrovavo a pubblicare sulla nostra netlabel il lavoro di un poco conosciuto e già bravissimo musicista sardo. La release conteneva un’incantevole traccia elettro-ambient intitolata Stellar, era il preludio di una veloce e meravigliosa corsa verso una professionalità e notorietà sempre più marcata, sfociata nella nascita di una label che guarda caso si chiama Stella e nella produzione di molti lavori tra cui risalta decisamente quest’ultimo Escape. Una colonna sonora realizzata per la compagnia di ballo londinese LCP Dance Theatre che incanta per la freschezza degli arrangiamenti. Oltre l’ormai desueto e inflazionato modern-classic. Contemporaneità universale. (Mirco Salvadori)