The Complete Recordings 1980 - 1981
The Complete Recordings 1982 - 1983

[Ictus Records,]

It's amazing to see the Ictus label be back from the dead and to see musical activity humming. From among the archival recordings, Andrea Centazzo has once again pulled a proverbial rabbit out of a hat. His Mitteleuropa Orchestra which was only alive for a span between 1980 through to 1983 finally gets a proper CD issue. Why would this be a crucial reissue? If only to hear some of these artists at early points in their career. Which musicians were involved with the Mitteleuropa Orchestra? The list is extensive but here it goes - Franz Koglmann on flugelhorn and trumpet, Carlos Zingaro on violin, Gianluigi Trovesi on bass clarinet and alto sax, Theo Jorgensmann on clarinet, Radu Malfatti on trombone, Gino Commisso on trumpet, Carlo Actis Dato on bass clarinet and baritone sax, Roberto Ottaviano on soprano sax, Sauro D'Angelo on clarinet and alto sax, Roberto Manuzzi on soprano and alto, Andrea Anzola and Stefano Stagni on French horns, bassists Roberto Bartoli, Stefano Ferri and Franco Feruglio and percussionists Bruno Cabassi, Gianpaolo Salbego, Guido Vianello, Paolo Zanella and Piero Bertelli. Andrea Centazzo of course played drums and various percussion and acted as the conductor. Housed inside of sturdy metal cases [each containing 3 CDs], the music is an intricate study of how composed music allows improvisation to occur within certain, controlled realms. In terms of highlights, there are so many, I don't want to give you a headache by naming each one in exact detail. Suffice it to say, Radu Malfatti's stunning trombone guffaws near the end of the 3rd Movement of "Echoes for Large Ensemble" makes one appreciate the man's playing before he moved on to more microtonal climates. Same goes for the whole trumpet section that is allowed to do some nice counter-points on the 2nd movement of the same piece. During the first movement of "Satori for Large Ensemble", Centazzo directs a fine point-counterpoint between saxophones and trumpets, ending the show-down off with light percussive flickering on triangle and shimmering hi-hat excesses. Every member of the large orchestra gets their fair chance to solo. Though it's not immediately easy to recognize individual voices in the crowd [something the liner notes should mention in more detail], once the music gets going, you stop caring about individuals and start to pay more attention to the group as a whole. It's the communal sound that's more important in this music. Musical variety is evident from disc to disc. While "The Radio Session" tends to be somewhat static in terms of development, "Samudaya" holds more drama and overall anxiety in the music. Heavy concentration on percussion is heard throughout. It's almost as if Centazzo was purposefully giving percussion an uneven advantage. Much of this music is calm in nature as individual movements tend not to reach many extreme pinnacles that blow peoples heads off. In fact, personally I find the music rather soothing than disruptive or chaotic. Centazzo likes order and when he allows direct battles to come around inside of the movements, these never last for extended periods. Even in chaos, formality and order must reign. Centazzo admits in the liner notes, "I am truly happy that, as a composer, I have never suffered from the typical syndrome of the classical composer who writes only for ideal instrumental combinations, for ideal criteria, in ideal forms. My objective has always been to be able to hear my music performed immediately. This is why I have always written for specific musicians, for existing ensembles, with soloists I know." There's lots of music on these two volumes to absorb - enough in fact to keep you busy for many weeks to come. In each set, a different musical adventure awaits. If you're ready traveller, set your course for planet Mitteleuropa without further delay.

- Tom Sekowski

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+ HAL RAMMEL - Like Water Tightly Wound
+ MARTYN BATES - Your Jewled Footsteps
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+ THE STRANGLERS - Anthology
+ DAX PIERSON / ROBERT HORTON - Pablo Feldman Sun Riley
+ ZU & NOBUKAZU TAKEMURA - Identifications with the Enemy, A Key to the Underworld
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>> ANDREA CENTAZZO MITTELEUROPA ORCHESTRA - The Complete Recordings 1980 - 1981 - The Complete Recordings 1982 - 1983
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