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Fontana plays Frescobaldi - Review on Crescendo Magazine
Review of the album "Fontana plays Frescobaldi" on Crescendo Magazine
Below is the review (translated into Italian) that appeared in the Belgian music magazine Crescendo Magazine on 11 November 2021 by Christophe Steyne
Trained in organ and piano at the Verona Conservatory, Michele Fontana also knows the technique (sound recording, mixing, post-production) which earned him his diploma in Modena. A double skill that led him to create his own recording studio and then the active label Fluente Records in 2018, already with around twenty releases in various genres including classical, jazz and pop.
The flagship project of this label is based on the distribution of the complete keyboard works of his compatriot Girolamo Frescobaldi. Seven downloadable volumes thus offer this corpus in the chronological order of the collections: The First Book of Fantasies for four (1608); Toccatas and Partitas, First Book (1615); Ricercari and French Songs, First Book (1615-1618); The First Book of Caprices (1624); Musical Flowers (1635); The Second Book of Toccatas (first edition 1627 [cover indicates revision date 1637]); French songs in score (1645). The double album received by your magazine brings together on two CDs an anthology of all these recordings, except volume 7. With only five tracks between them, volumes 1, 3 and 4 are underrepresented in all songs. , which nevertheless offers a wide range of genres approached by the Italian composer. Note the vocal participation (not imperishable) of Elena Bertuzzi and Matteo Zenatti at the Magnificat, the Hinno isste Confessore but also a Recercar and a Capriccio "obligation to sing".
The pages of CD 2 are reproduced on the Antegnati idiomatic (1565) of the Palatine Basilica in Mantua, which Roberto Loreggian had already requested for the Second Book of Toccatas (Brilliant, 2008) and Ivana Valotti for an anthology taken from the Chigi Codex ( Tatto , 2019). The main originality: to choose not a harpsichord, but a piano? An anachronistic option since the "harpsichord with piano and forte" appears only at the beginning of the 18th century with the builder Bartolomeo Cristofori (1655-1731). Admittedly, the adventure had already tempted some iconoclasts. Thus we recall the Frescobaldi Dialogues by Francesco Tristano Schlimé captured at the Stage of the Bastille in November 2006, published by Sisyphe. The radical innovation (think again if such a case had already been tested and marketed) dared by Michele Fontana is that of having his Steinway D274 tuned according to a mesotonic temperament. For the good care of Giuseppe Mirandola. An unprecedented hybrid project that the libretto presents to us as “a modern but at the same time ancient and pure listening experience, which preserves the affects contained in Frescobaldi's music thanks to the seventeenth-century mesotonic chord and respect for Baroque performance practice. ”
In the cover photo, the performer cultivates a mimicry with the famous portrait of Frescobaldi engraved by Abbeville Claude Mellan (1598-1688). And his way of playing takes the form of metamorphosis, in the piano aspect, the softness of the phrasing induces a different face from the one emanating from the usual harpsichord readings. Gloved by a soft, flexibly curved phrasing, the flow of chants and counter-chants enchants. Perhaps to the detriment of the hiatus and harmonic asperities, but that this lyricism is welcoming, subtle, nuanced (the trills!)… Each piece tells a modest, precious story. At the top we would place the cartoons of the Partite sopra aria by Monicha, and the diffracted pedagogy of the Partite sopra Ciaccona. Beyond the unexpected instrument and its temperament that promised strangeness, the surprise comes above all from the strictly artistic virtues of this highly inspired execution: it flows naturally, with insolent evidence. And since Michele Fontana is also a skilled organist, we can only recommend this double album, inviting you to immerse yourself in this complete enterprise far from the radar of the media and well worth the detour.
Interpretation (piano): 10
Interpretation (organ): 9
Repertoire: 9-10
Recording (organ): 7.5
Registration (piano): 8.5
Booklet: 8


“..And his way of playing takes the form of metamorphosis, in the piano aspect, the softness of the phrasing induces a different face from the one that emanates from the usual harpsichord readings. Gloved by a soft, flexibly curved phrasing, the flow of songs and counter-songs enchants… "excerpt from the review on Crescendo Magazine by C. Steyne

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Source: Christophe Steyne

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