Artist: Federico Moscogiuri
Release Date: 2015 Feb 8
Genre: Modern Renaissance Classical
License: CC BY-NC-SA
A little insight into how I listen to the releases that I review: I make a big playlist, pick a release and start listening. When my player reaches the bottom of the playlist it wraps back up to the top. When I’ve finished writing a review, that release is removed from the playlist. There are times when I am listening I have no clue what release is playing. This semi-blind listening has benefits and negatives. One negative is that sometimes I go searching for a track that I thought was on a release I am writing about, only to find it’s on a different release. One positive is that I sometimes find myself pleasantly surprised by a release. Federico Moscogiuri: Arpeggi is one of those pleasantly surprising releases.
Federico Moscogiuri: Arpeggi
Federico Moscogiuri is originally from Florence, Italy and now lives in Hertford, England. This is his first release on Magnatune. He studied the Lute under Manuel Minguillón. But, instead of pursuing his Lute music in the form of re-interpreting Renaissance works, he set out on a surprising path: to write and record modern music on the lute.
And that is what I alluded to as “pleasantly surprising” in the opening of this review. When I started listening to this work I thought that these were exceptionally well performed interpretations of renaissance lute works. It wasn’t until I reached the third piece ‘Afterglow’ that I realized this wasn’t a typical recording. There are a couple phrases in this track that was you would expect to hear in a renaissance composition: a descending bass line that is almost jazz / blues like, and another small phrase that sounds like a ‘hook’ from a modern pop song.
Hearing these anomalies I looked at the playlist and noted that most of the track titles appeared to be very modern: ‘Afterglow’, ‘In Another Time’, ‘Memories Of A Summer’, etc. This lead me back to the release notes for this recording, and to the realization that Federico was trying something that many classical musicians don’t do: write modern pieces that reflect our current life, while not exploiting the instrument in an unnatural way.
That is to say, while injecting these works with a touch of modern song structure, and a bit of contemporary harmonic / tonal texture, these are still very much idiomatically proper Lute works. Federico has taken many personal experiences and feelings and placed them as the central focus of these songs.
Which, in a way, may seem somewhat odd. It’s kind of like taking our current lives, ideals and beliefs and projecting them back into the renaissance, and asking the question “how would a musician from 300-500 years ago interpret our society now?” One possible answer to this question can be found in this exceptionally well written, performed and recorded release.
I like being surprised by a musical release, especially when the surprise is something like Federico Moscogiuri’s Arpeggi. Composing and performing modern pieces for a renaissance period instrument might seem to be crazy given the direction of modern music: all electronic, heavily beat oriented, and mostly pop-formatted. Federico makes the case for continuing to exploring instruments like the lute to find out what we can learn our current lives, and how our current ideals relate to the past.