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Ludovico Einaudi, Taranta at the Barbican

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David Franchi – 27th June 2011
“Einaudi, Taranta and the Barbican”
 
It was a double standing ovation for the “Notte della Taranta!” the concert performed by Ludovico Einaudi and Notte della Taranta Orchestra at the Barbican. The internationally renowned Italian musician returned to London with new musical idea. The “Notte della Taranta” is a piece of the Italian culture, not only music, coming from Salento, the southern area of Apulia Region.

The word Taranta comes from the spider tarantula, a common and dangerous insect living in the area. It was believed that playing these songs women affected by the spider poison could be saved. However, in recent times it is more understood that the tradition was connected with freedom of expression: in a rural and strict society it was the only moment women could speak freely and reveal their inner thoughts, perhaps without being poisoned at all. Recently the Taranta was rediscovered and, with an accurate work on popular traditions, brought to success by Melpignano Festival. The director of the 2010 Festival – bringing 100,000 visitors each year to the small village of Melpignano – was Ludovico Einaudi himself.

At the Barbican the concert was so appreciated that some women started dancing in the back of the room. Because this is, of course, music for women, developed nowadays in a liberation movement with roots that lasts more than a century. And it was an explosion of joy at the end of the concert. Einaudi blended many Mediterranean traditions inviting guest stars, with whom he already collaborated, such as the Greek singer Savina Yannatou, the Turkish multi-instrumentalist and DJ, Mercan Dede, and the Malian kora player, Ballake Sissoko.

Einaudi has refreshed the tradition by writing new music. Though mixed with other traditions – including an Australian didgeridoo – the main music was the Taranta, with Einaudi directing the orchestra and playing parts of his usual minimalistic tunes. Alongside original interpretation of the untamed La Notte della Taranta, Ludovico Einaudi performed a few of his own pieces in thrilling new arrangements. Dancing is also a notable aspect of the Taranta, that imitates the effects of the spider poison, and therefore there were two female dancers. But also a Sufi dancer with traditional clothes, reminding the unique geographical position of the Salento, facing Greece and Albania, haven for Crusaders, invaded by Normans and Moors, part of the Bourbons reign and ‘absorbed’ by the Italian unification in the 19th century. The music perfectly condensed the thousand years past of the Salento. If your imagination was strong enough, you would be almost able to physically be there, watching the seashore under the hot summer sun, even smell the perfumes of olives and vineyards. The contrast between Ludovico Einaudi, from the northern region of the Piedmont were man are famous to be stiff, and the wild music from the hot southern Apulia, could be merged creating an extraordinary concert.

Strictly, for Italians only then? Not really, as the songs are in the various dialects of the area ‘Salentino’, or maybe ‘Grico’ or ‘Arberesche’ of Greek and Albanian origins.

Published for: www.remotegoat.co.uk

Direct link: http://www.remotegoat.co.uk/review_view.php?uid=7115

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Written by davidfranchi

June 29, 2011 at 3:38 pm

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