I Viulan,
(Radici, 2005)

I Viulan is the one band that for 30 years has explored the folk and roots music of the appennine valleys of the Tuscany and Emilia regions of Northern Italy, a rich vein of tunes and traditions.

Today, I Viulan consists of the three singers, Lele Chiodi (baritone), Lauro Bernardoni (bass) and Carlo Pagliai (tenor), as well as musicians Giorgio Albiani (guitars, arrangements) and Ilvio Trotta (guitars, mandolins, bass).This CD was recorded in a church in Arezzo in 2005.

These are the songs and stories of the people of these mountains, stories about thwarted love and desire, lullabyes, and other stories.

Like folk music everywhere, some of the songs seem like fragments of a tale, and perhaps that is indeed what they are.

"Filastrocca (Nursery Rhyme)" is one such, a typical uptempo selection with the three voices solo and together backed by the guitar and mandolin. "Riverenza" is a complaint, delivered at a less hectic pace, but with an intense, driving sound: it's about the hardships of local sharecroppers. "No money and no food, we can't go on -- like this we struggle, it's a rascal's life," they sing. "Mosca e Mora" with its ringing guitar sound is also a fun, somewhat nonsensical song about birds and beasts that turns into a love song. Very cute!

These song-stories give us a picture of a peasant life that is rapidly disappearing in rural Italy, as it is across Europe.

I Viulan is one of those great bands that labors away for decades, doing that great work of taking a region's folksongs and keeping them alive, even bringing them back to the broader consciousness. This is a fine selection of the band's work, certainly worth a listen.

[ visit the artist's website ]

review by
David Cox

8 March 2008

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