Italian composer and pianist Alessandro Sgobbio has a light touch and creates an atmosphere to get lost in. Though he has released albums before as a bandleader, his solo work, Piano Music, allows his singular voice to shine. He doesn’t just sit on a theme or pattern—he explores the sonic palette. By shifting around the keyboard, his music blossoms but can return to its initial phrasing and melody, coming full circle. Piano Music, is an intimate listening experience that is as rewarding as it is personal.
There is such restraint in his pieces. A bit like Keith Jarrett and Ola Gjeilo, there is a deceptive minimalism at work here. Tracks like “Zolla” are made up of little sections that act like patches on a quilt and are almost miniature compositions themselves. The way they combine and blend effortlessly shows a true spirit of innovation and genius. The big picture is made up of smaller pictures, nothing is left to chance—even if the tracks sometimes have the feel of improvisations.
There is also a playfulness, as in the third track, “Atma Mater,” not unlike the master of French humor, Francis Poulenc. However, Sgobbio never stays in one place for too long. The mix is what is so rewarding; not only does he have a fantastic technique, shown by the runs and ability to accelerate suddenly, but he puts so much into his compositions. And the solo piano is the perfect mode of transportation for this.
Music is meant to connect people, and through compositions, we are given the chance to peer into a person’s influences and experiences. From sad (“Third World (Elegy)”) to more lighthearted (“Acqua Granda”) or even wistful (“Ghaza”), these pieces deliver variation in tone and style. The 20th-century French style in particular seems to be present with a flair for jazzier execution sprinkled in. Piano Music shows Sgobbio as someone ready to face the world and join in with its despair and joyful surprises. Without being overly technical or abstract, we are graced with nine beautiful examples of solo piano that keep the listener engaged by being fluid in their representation of the artist’s mind and creative point of view.
Born in Krasnoyarsk, Russia, Konstantin Nicholas Rega currently attends East Anglia's famous MA in Creative Writing with the Ink, Sweat and Tears Scholarship. He is a professional musician, the former host/producer of Jazz Jams on CSRfm 97.4, and twice a Dan Veach Prize for Younger Poets finalist. He is the Fiction Editor for Crack the Spine and a contributor to The Black Lion Journal. He also blogs.