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Stefano Bollani Stone in the Water Review

Album. Released 2009.  

BBC Review

Exemplary in its understatement.

Colin Buttimer 2009

Italian pianist Stefano Bollani here delivers a collection of subtle, sophisticated music that’s a real pleasure to spend time with while ultimately appearing a little unremarkable in retrospect.

Bollani, an alumnus of trumpeter Enrico Rava, appears for the first time on ECM with the Danish rhythm section that he’s worked with since 2003. Bollani plays pellucid notes that fall like stones dropped into clear water – appropriate, given this collection’s title. Caetano Veloso’s Dom de Iludir is treated with the gentlest of kid gloves and in loving fashion: Morten Lund begins to gradually stir the drums with gentle brushes as Jesper Bodilsen steals onto the scene like a thief.

Orvieto and Edith are contributed by Bodilsen. They’re a mixture of quiet introspection and romantic melodicism. Fifth track Un Sasso Nello Stagno begins reflectively before segueing into a hypnotic passage with the pianist tracing quickly modulating patterns that are softly buffeted by passing motifs.

Bollani’s cover of Francois Poulenc’s Improvisation 13 en la Mineur sits seamlessly alongside the pianist’s own compositions. Joker in the Village concludes the recording with ringing tones that eventually descend into silence.

Stone in the Water is exemplary in its understatement. Without even a moment of grandstanding nor a break in the trio’s concentrated interaction, this album might better have been named Water Over Stones such is its smooth, fluid motion.

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