With his third CD for Felmay Neapolitan guitarist Antonello Paliotti continues to forge ahead on the highly original path taken by previous offering Tarantella Storta (fy 8036) and Serenata Luntana (fy 8055) accompanied by the MandolinOrchestra.
Unlike those records whose focus was on revisiting and renewing Naples’s musical heritage through intricate and refined instrumental arrangements, Paliotti’s latest offering, La montagna fredda, places the accent on the use of the voice, inviting a number of guest singers (Gianni Lamagna, Brunella Selo, Luciano Catapano, Lello Giulivo, Antonio Esposito) up to the microphone to alternate on the songs featured. Such a move adds further depth and variety to Paliotti’s project and shows why he is currently one of the most gifted figures on the buzzing Southern Italian scene. Together with traditional standards this album features a number of self-penned compositions in which Paliotti with customary elegance deftly weaves together echoes of past and present. The resulting music seems positively alive, bubbling with the lifeblood of the earth from which it sprang. Santa Lucia, a classic song in anybody’s memory is reborn in Paliotti’s version, aided by the plangent moan of Leonardo Massa’s cello that becomes a kind of guide vocal for the piece in its own right. The CD abounds not only with precious, half-forgotten tarantellas and pizzicas but also with rescued fragments of songs that despite being little played continue to enjoy a robust popular following. Such is the case with Tu m’haje prummiso, a refrain sung by the washerwomen of Vomero, Ciccuzza, a typical ‘spiting’ song and the song of Zeza, a soundtrack for festivities dating back to the dawn of time. And there’s fun and games to be had with the end titles of Me diste ’appuntamento e si’ mancata, “improperly” offered in manouche key.
Without forcing his hand, stering an even keel between classicism and the poetry of street-side chaos, Paliotti and his guests manage to turn La montagna fredda into a fragrant offering of Parthenopean feeling and bring to fitting conclusion a work that deserves a place in the annals of folk memory to come.
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