Jan 5, 2009

Sicilien, Alagna

1 · Abballati
2 · Parla Piu Piano
3 · Mi Votu
4 · Ciuri, ciuri
5 · Carrettieri
6 · Li Pira
7 · A lu mircatu
8 · Sicilia Bedda
9 · Lu Me Sciccareddu
10 · N'Tintiriti
11 · Si Maritau Rosa
12 · Vitti'na Crozza
13 · Ninna Nanna

Once the organic emotion of a widespread [1] recording of the undeservingly ignored Sicilian music starts to fade (or at least becomes manageable), one starts listening to this album with less subjective ears.

The real surprise is how "un-Alagna-esque" the voice of Alagna sounds: much darker than usual, less flamboyant, almost humble at times. A great means to focus on the music rather than on Alagna. Of course it was too much to ask of him to stay in the shadow for the whole recording (thus the Ninna Nanna composed with one of his brothers at the end the CD), but his restraint is indeed quite praiseworthy.

I've already commented about the excellent selection this album offers (one could have forgotten the extract from The Godfather, truth be told), so I won't repeat myself (but I could, monomaniac that I am). There are some jewels on this recording, but don't get me wrong; there's also something desperately missing.
The jewels are Sicilia Bedda (whose arrangement is pretty relevant), Carrettieri (probably the most Sicilian song of all) and, less amazing but worth noticing, Lu me sciccareddu. Alagna had the idea of adapting the text from Si maritau Rosa in his Sicilian dialect (Siracusa region), but I'll admit that doesn't do it for me, which is a shame because this is one of my favorite Sicilian songs.

So what's missing? Simply put, life.
Let's not kid ourselves, my critic is based on my own experience with this particular music: live, in the streets, amongst a few compari [2], as part of life (just like cooking is part of life).

Alas, the recording of this album is too clean and polished for that feeling to emerge (I never thought, for instance, that the marranzano could sound so emotionless). There's no real excitement here, especially on the Tarentelle, that should only sound untidy, i.e. vibrant.

This is only me, for sure, so please don't let me dissuade you from discovering the Sicilian musical heritage.  

[1] #3 in the best selling list in France last week
[2] cf. Julius De la Rosa, see there

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