Within the large family of composers of modern classical music, Bruno Sanfilippo is one who has taken the good habit to release, with a certain regularity, nice and elegant records. In 2018 we appreciated his intriguing and relatively experimental work named Unity and now, just at the beginning of the new year, we enjoy his brand new LP, named Pianette, which is more close to that current of minimalism that has been so successful in the recent years.
Sanfilippo’s biography says that the Argentinian musician graduated from the Galvani Conservatory in Buenos Aires with a degree in Musical Composition, and that since his early years he was influenced by classical composers such as Satie, Debussy and Ravel. In 2000 Sanfilippo left his native Country and moved to Barcelona, where he effectively started his career as composer. He evidently adapted the style of the masters to the simpler and more commercial tastes of the current audience of listeners and, as a matter of fact, all of his records have the merit of an absolute ease of listening. This approach is fully confirmed in Pianette. If, one one side, this is partly due to the essentiality of the pieces he wrote for the album, on the other hand it demonstrates the ability of Sanfilippo to compose melodic motifs that are fascinating and pleasant despite their intrinsic simplicity.
The attentive listeners, and especially those who have had any direct experience with the piano, will easily understand, however, that much of the charm and delicacy of Pianette are due to the soft and delicate effects that are applied on Sanfilippo’s instruments, in particular the subtle echoes and the mechanical repetitions that are generated on each note he plays. These, which appear at first as just small alterations of the sound of the piano, in the end contribute significantly to the dreamy atmospheres of the songs, and fill the void that we would hear between the notes if the same melodies were played on a non-prepared instrument. Beyond this effect, however, the melodic development of the songs of Pianette is extremely good, as well as the sensibility that’s used by Sanfilippo to move between major and minor scales. I believe that this specific aspect of his music is brilliant, and effective, and it has nothing to do with the “smart” mechanisms that he uses to process and improve the sound of the piano.
One of the things that I appreciate the most of Pianette is the general sense of kindness and elegance that emerges from the songs of the album. There is a stylistic coherence between the tracks that doesn’t become boring repetitiveness, and it’s really a pleasure to play the record in the background while we are busy in other activities. There are of course a few tracks that stand out over the others and which may capture our attention from what we’re doing in that moment. These include the first two songs of the album: the title track and the beatiful piece Doll, which is maybe one of the best of the entire album. The last song of the LP, named Goodness, highlights that capacity to move between major and minor scales that I was introducing before.
At the same time though, there are still a few pieces in Pianette which approach that dangerous boundary which exists between minimalism and extreme simplicity. But fortunately there is always something special in Sanfilippo’s music which precludes his songs to stay on the wrong side of the line.
My rating for the album is 6.5/10.
Bruno Sanfilippo is now featured in BEAUTIFUL PIANO, the playlist with the best and latest songs for piano.