Review: Bruno Sanfilippo – Piano Textures 3

“My master used to say, on the lighted stage or in front of the awaken microphones, dream! Don’t be really there while you improvise, then you will make your audience dream as well.” 

Perhaps Bruno Sanfilippo actually intended for this liner note statement to be as ambiguous as it is, or perhaps the actual meaning was snagged on the prickly obstacle of mistranslation. Regardless, I’ve interpreted “don’t be really there” to mean letting one’s self be consumed by the act of improvisation; swatting even the idea of pre-meditation out of the picture, re-positioning both player and listeners as the audience of pure chance. Thus, instead of “dreaming” into the limitations of human personality and habit, one can dream into the infinite.

But in the knowledge that Sanfilippo is a classically trained composer and performer with two decades of experience behind him, one gets more than just a glimpse of his melodic sensibility and technical refinement; the music runs up and down major scales and exhibits an adherence to tempo, scuttling with the fluidity and light touch of a particularly gentle (but impeccably precise) ballet dance. Even the shadows of other artists creep into view (Eno’s piano-driven waterfall cascades, Sakamoto’s serene open plains), and rather than be liberated from the human image, I feel constantly reminded of its central presence.

Aside from those tracks that wallow in overly saccharine film soundtrack (I’m looking at you, track five), by no means is this meant as a criticism. My favourite moments are those that actually utilise these classical tendencies via the music’s mercurial execution. The sixth piece, for example, tiptoes gently forward into an open window of sampled morning conversation and birdsong, with low notes struck and left to bounce softly against the string. During moments like this, which cushion themselves beautifully within the confines of major key, I realise that initial interpretation of the quote above is perhaps inaccurate. Sanfilippo does not pursue the absolute evaporation of humanity from his recording; I reach this dreamstate through the music’s unbroken serenity, and while his status as a polished composer/performer is ever-present, there comes a point that I’m too blissfully away to care.