Ori Pari
(FolkClub Ethnosuoni, 1999)

The first track of Ori Pari brought visions of shadowy footpaths through medieval forests. Shades of Red Riding Hood's stroll! Vocals are high and there's a background pitch that draws attention to itself, not unlike a bagpipe's drone. These two points are just minor distractions on what turns out to be a gem among the heirlooms of world folk music.

Liner notes are in Italian, English and Piedmontese. English notes translate the basic story of ballad and song. The first, we discover, is about a maid raped by a knight (not so far from the Red Riding Hood scenario after all). We're left to our imagination for the translation of Tendachent, which I've dubbed Tender-Chant, and Ori Pari.

This band from Italy -- more precisely, from Piedmont in the north -- delivers a focused and well arranged platter of folk tunes with a mix of traditional and contemporary instrumentals and song. It doesn't matter in the least that the vocals are sung in Piedmontese; their engaging harmony and rhythms emerge from what appears to be a tried and true folk repertoire.

Most compilations on Ori Pari were gathered, produced, mixed, arranged and played by the multi-talented Maurizio Martinotti. He and two other members from La Ciapa Rusa joined three young and skilled musicians in the spring of 1997 to form Tendechent and become a "natural evolution from one of the main folk-revival bands," as reported by FolkClub Ethnosuoni, a new label and music publisher of traditional Italian music.

Energetic and smooth instrumentals mark the group as talented and very comfortable with the tradition of this music. Favorites were the traditional giga, or jigs. Violins, hurdy gurdy, piano, flute, guitars, drums and percussion, with bass and harp in some selections, built a full-bodied and completely finished sound.

One cut included "two brand new scottish" -- just some down-home fiddling, Italian style, including a tribute to a traditional music player from the province of Alessandria. So it wasn't just through imagination that sounds common to Cape Breton tunes were found on parts of the CD.

Four waltzes all composed by Martinotti, Irish undertones of traditional tunes, a curenta to dance your feet off, a medieval ballad six minutes long that I wouldn't shorten by a note, gypsy camp-fire music, a perguidino, a mazurka, and a monferrina as a grand finale had an invisible thread joining each piece through the center, allowing them to revolve in their own fashion, but tied the whole together in a strong package that only improved as it became more familiar each time it was played. This CD would be a great addition to anyone's folk music library.

[ by Virginia MacIsaac ]
Rambles: 8 September 2001