Il Melodramma Ballabile - L’ocarina tra Verdi e il ballo
Il Melodramma Ballabile (Dancing melodrama) has two sources for its originality: first, it is only played by ocarina ensembles, classically a septet; second, it features pieces taken from music sheets dating from the 1930s and 1940s and seldom played since then. Ocarinas are clay flutes used worldwide.
The repertoire mainly includes arrangements of arias from operas, marches and dance tunes and of course opera pieces: Verdi’s music in particular.
I must admit it: I don’t particularly like Giuseppe Verdi’s music. In this respect, a pianist friend once told me “May God forgive you!”
However, miracles happen sometimes. And I have to thank the Ensemble Novecento (that I could appreciate in a concert more than once) for this.
The rereading of Verdi, by the seven indomitable musicians, is irresistibly elegant and dazzling.
Yet it is hard to convey the great variety of rhythms and colours of Verdi’s music with an instrument such the ocarina, which is surely stimulating, but seemingly one-dimensional.
Donati’s invention, in the masterly hands of the performers on this recording, shows energetically orchestral sides.
Clear timbres, extraordinarily well-blended sounds… and the ability to connect art fields only apparently far from one another.
The ENSEMBLE NOVECENTO has been committed for almost twenty years with passion and skill to researching and playing unfairly forgotten musical repertoires, research that has always included the study of the variations and paraphrases from well-known arias.
The members of the ensemble from Budrio are real virtuosos, but…be careful! Don’t think to find yourselves in the presence of simple (though acrobatic) operatic evolutions! Hear the technical skills are at the service of a true poetic inspiration.
In a nutshell, the works by the composer from Busseto becomes more varied.
After all, Verdi’s music (very well-liked in Emilia), it its engaging simplicity, often drawing from the dance music fashionable in the second half of the 1800s, was among the first to be included in the repertoire of ocarina septets.
Non-opera pieces feature in the CD, too: a polka, a waltz and a mazurka, which give strength to the style connection between melodrama and folk music.
Finally, the magical alchemy of Ensemble Novecento’s ocarinas offers us a sound fresco of great sobriety and freshness in this CD, free from the excesses which, in my opinion, have always been the most questionable connotation of melodrama.
These – let’s not forget it – are the thoughts of a ‘non’-Verdian. Enjoy the music!
Il Melodramma Ballabile (Dancing melodrama) has two sources for its originality: first, it is only played by ocarina ensembles, classically a septet; second, it features pieces taken from music sheets dating from the 1930s and 1940s and seldom played since then. Ocarinas are clay flutes used around the world, but it was Giuseppe Donati from Budrio who developed the ten-finger-hole model in the mid-1800s.
Over the years, Giuseppe Donati could construct a series of seven tuned-up instruments of different sizes. Some of the town best musicians joined him to form an ocarina band, who very successfully performed locally first and in Italian and European theatres then.
Their repertoire, following that of the brass bands the ensemble members came from, mainly included arrangements of arias from operas, marches and dance tunes. However, it was the opera pieces that took the lion’s share: Verdi’s music – well known and loved in Emilia – was the first to be included in the repertoire of ocarina septets.
From the 1920s to 1948, the ensemble was headed by Alfredo Barattoni, one of the utmost interpreters of Budrio ocarina tradition and the author of most of the arrangements we perform. Budrio tradition did not die with Barattoni, though: ocarina makers, enthusiasts and musicians came one after the other along the road opened by Donati and they still continue this very original and prized Emilia musical and cultural tradition, which has its home and seat in Budrio with a museum entirely devoted to ocarinas.
ENSEMBLE NOVECENTO from Felmay Shop