Stefano Falcone released ‘Obras’ back in March – better late than never

Stefano Falcone is an Italian pianist and composer. A versatile and sought-after professional, he has so far performed on many European stages (Italy, Sweden, Scotland, Denmark, England, Faroe Islands, Belgium, Portugal).

In 2021 he was selected by the Obras Foundation to develop a solo piano composition project in the context of an artistic residence in the heart of Portugal. In the last years he has been busy composing and releasing music as part of a duo with bass player Ilaria Capalbo (Invisible Atlas, Skidoo Records, 2017), as a solo artist (Telos, Solitunes, 2016) and as a member of co-lead trio KÓSMOS (Back Home, Jazzit Records, 2019; Averno, 2023).

His latest releases have been enthusiastically received by critics and have led him to perform at Royal Albert Hall (UK), Casa del Jazz (IT), Pomigliano Jazz (IT), Edinburgh Fringe Festival (SCO), Torshavn Cathedral (FAE), Wunderkammer Music (IT) and New Sound Made Jazz Festival (SE). OBRAS is a composition work for solo piano carried out during an artistic residency, which took place in the summer of 2021 at the OBRAS Foundation, Portugal.

Artwork by Tim Gleason

‘Montado’ was the first track I heard after Stefano had been in touch with me and was the reason I decided to review the album. Apparently the tune “was born from the idea of ecological harmony and respect for roots as a resource of physical and emotional sustainability”. I can only say that the music had an instantly calming effect as I was drawn into the tune captivated by the notes played and not played. There are moments of understated energy, of brooding but mostly of thoughtful spacious sound. ‘Carlud’ has a different sound profile: at times bright, making good use of pianistic runs and diminuendo before setting off again; a good classical music style number.

There are three ‘Obras’ titled tracks all of which are impromptu compositions resulting from observation and dedication to art and sincere conversations shared with artists known in Portugal. Although three separate tracks they are linked, like a discussion that begins one evening and is spread across a number of evenings. I like the way Stefano makes use of the lower register in ‘Orbas #1 & #2’ and then contrasts it ‘Orbas #3’ with a brighter touch, like the conversation coming to some sort of acceptable conclusion.

‘White Falcon’ and ‘Red Door N°2’ are symbols of restart. Both tunes have an air of optimism but where ‘White Falcon’ feels more cautious, ‘Red Door N°2’ has a more confident, stronger touch. The first of the two numbers is more delicately lyrical, the second more vibrant and, therefore, makes for an interesting contrast on the same theme of restart. Where things really change stylistically is on ‘Alentejo’.

‘Alentejo’ is “is a hymn to the impact that nature has on creative genesis and its ability to amplify that feeling of abstraction necessary to give credit to what our body too often screams but remains unheard.” That abstract is quality is there from the start, the sound is more contemporary in feel and expression, the familiar lyricism does not reveal itself until the latter stages of the tune.

‘A Thousand Lies’ “refers to the mistake as a necessary step to reach the goal.” There is an exploratory feel about the opening section of this number which develops into something more sure-footed, more hopeful but never strident. The mellifluous quality of Falcone’s playing is on full display here. The phrasing, tempo and touch are all beautifully portrayed as is a sense of calm, of inner peace, of contentment.

Falcone’s pianism is never short of lyricism or drama, but these qualities generally come unexpectedly and silently, filtered through an adventurous sensibility and the strategic use of silence that indicates its reflective – although never passive – nature. This is a delightfully prepossessing release of piano music in a contemporary style and although not a jazz album I think it may well appeal to a number of jazz piano devotees because of the way it is structured and played – I will certainly be returning to this album and its affecting nuances of reflective expressionism.

Obras is available as a limited edition CD at Bandcamp or as a digital download.

Tracklist: 1. Montado. 2. Carlud. 3. Obras #1. 4. White Falcon. 5. Red Door N° 2. 6. Alentejo. 7. Obras #2. 8. A Thousand Lies. 9. Obras #3

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