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July/August 2005

Gianluigi Trovesi, Gianni Coscia
Round about the Weill
ECM Records

On their third album of duets this Italian pair continues their assimilationist ways, masterfully adapting compositions by Kurt Weill-as well as originals drawing inspiration from the German composer-for accordion and clarinet. Considering Weill's duality-a serious art-music composer and nonpareil craftsman of Weimar cabaret songs-he's a fitting subject of study for Gianni Coscia and Gianluigi Trovesi, whose past duo work has made room for everything from Italian folks songs to John Lewis tunes.

Most of the album's Weill pieces come from his opera The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny, but there's also a tender and jaunty run through "Tango Ballade" from The Threepenny Opera. Mahagonny's stylistic range is duly accented here, as the pair juggles rigorous improvisation, stately airs and circuslike bacchanalia without ever abandoning chamberlike purity. The performances make the most of the timbral possibilities of the accordion-clarinet pairing, investing the pieces with gorgeously spectral harmonies. Coscia's woozy accordion rarely ditches the chordal underpinnings of the tunes, giving Trovesi and his beautifully full-blooded tone plenty of wiggle room. The duo clearly loves the material but refuse to let their interpretations be hamstrung by dry authenticity.

Originally published in July/August 2005
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