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Best of 2024

Marco Baldini, Apartment House


Label: Another Timbre

Format: CD

Genre: Compositional

In stock

With yet another striking and forward-thinking work of contemporary composition, Another Timbre returns with “Maniera”, their second outing with the Italian composer, Marco Baldini, following on from last year's brilliant “Vesperi” which sold out within weeks. Comprising seven works for various configurations of string ensemble, masterfully executed by Apartment House, that nod across time toward Italian polyphonic compositions of the 16th and early 17th centuries, the diverse history of Minimalist music, and 20th Century avant-garde composition in remarkably progressive ways, “Maniera” is a stunning expanse of long-tones and subtle harmonic tension that is a truly engrossing listen from the beginning to the end.

For more than a decade and half, Another Timbre has carved out a singular place in the landscape of recorded sound, issuing a startling array of releases, bridging the fields of modern classical composition, free improvisation, and numerous forms of rigorous experimentalism. In the label’s early days, it offered particular focus to the English scene from which it sprang, issuing works by John Butcher, Max Eastley, Phil Minton, Rhodri Davies, Angharad Davies, Evan Parker, Clive Bell, and others. Even here, through the collaborative connections illuminated by those records, the imprint was already looking further afield, slowly encompassing visionary efforts by artists from every corner of the globe, ranging from gestures of ambitious young voices to those by some of the most iconic figures in the history of modern and experimental composition. One such case appeared roughly a year ago, with “Vesperi”, the debut full-length by Italian composer, Marco Baldini, a stunning gesture of minimalist restraint and grace. Now Another Timbre continues their support of this singularly talented artist with the follow-up, “Maniera”. Comprising seven chamber works for strings, divinely executed by Apartment House, it’s a deeply emotive body of intertwining long-tones and constrained structures, carried by delicate sensitivity and dancing harmonic interplay, that hover, unfold, and disclose their mysteries at an achingly slow pace. Further revealing Baldini as a composer to watch, “Maniera” is nothing short of truly remarkable body of work.

Born in 1986 and raised in a small town in the countryside near Florence, Marco Baldini came to composing through his love of jazz and free improvisation, initially working within the ensemble Blutwurst, founded with Daniela Fantechi and Edoardo Ricci in 2011, before beginning to embrace more structured and systematic forms during 2020, having been afforded a new sense of time, space, and solitude by the pandemic lockdowns that happened during that year. It was during that period and since that the body of work that led to the developments and recording of his debut solo album, “Vesperi”, and its follow up, “Maniera”, has slowly begun to unfurl.

The seven pieces that comprise “Maniera” were composed between 2021 and 2023, for trios, quartets, and quintets, which were then executed using various line-ups by the renowned and longstanding avant-garde and experimental music chamber ensemble, Apartment House - specifically Mira Benjamin, Chihiro Ono, Bridget Carey, Anton Lukoszevieze, and James Opstad - for whom the works were either composed, or composed with them in mind.

Like Baldini’s pervious body of work, “Vesperi” - composed for (low) strings and marimba - “Maniera” nods toward the Italian polyphonic compositions of the 16th and early 17th centuries and a broadly diverse history of Minimalist music and 20th Century avant-garde composition: Feldman, Tenney, Young, etc. Each of the album’s seven compositions work with shifting palettes of durational tone, sculpting pastoral and dreamlike expanses that are gently threaded by subtle harmonic tension, often flirting with images of slow motion or deconstructed melodies that border on drone. Working within a fairly constrained realm of tonality and attack, as Apartment House draws each work into being, through the intertwining relationships that appear between each of the album’s pieces, microscopic differences in structural and tonal approach take on degrees of relative monumentality, resting as singular moments within a perfectly balanced vision of the whole.

Once again, with “Maniera”, Marco Baldini enters our consciousness as an author of deft vision and skill within the landscape of contemporary composition, drawing on deep histories in a thoroughly forward-thinking way. Masterfully executed by Apartment House, and stunningly beautiful and engrossing from the first sounding to the last, once again Another Timbre has proven themselves to a label with its ear to the ground that leads the pack. Not to be missed.

Cat. number: -
Year: 2024

Apartment House:
Mira Benjamin, violin
Chihiro Ono, violin & viola
Bridget Carey, viola
Anton Lukoszevieze, cello
James Opstad, double bass