CD Review: ‘Dido’s Lament’- Zoë Black and Joe Chindamo

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Dido’s Lament is the debut release by pianist Joe Chindamo and violinist Zoë Black on their newly formed recording label Mo’OzArt.

For the ‘classically’ trained Black and Chindamo, the pianist with the reputation as a jazz musician, it is a fusion of styles which seeks to shatter pre-conceptions and create what Chindamo describes as a completely “new conversation.” Chindamo is keen to establish that what the duo has created n this album is not cross-over, but the re-interpretation of the classics in a style that is true to its elements.

Hard to describe in words. Listening to this CD will perhaps convince you of their intentions. Dido’s Lament has everything that one would expect from this accomplished and musically experienced duo. There is dazzling technique (two sonatas by Scarlatti),  underpinned with the expressive use of dynamic s and tempo throughout, superb phrasing and ornamentation in Baroque style.

The 13 items amount to 59 minutes of music. They include Prokofiev’s Five melodies for Violin and Piano opus 36 bis, played as written by the composer. Chindamo’s original composition Spiegelhaus is a truly gorgeous work which evokes the world of smoke and mirrors, languid phrases and pulsing tango rhythms.

The rest are Chindamo’s arrangements of the classics which take in repertoire outside the customary violin and piano fare –Dido’s Lament  from Purcell’s opera Dido and Aeneas is performed as a theme variations with some deliciously ill-at-ease dissonances which mercifully resolve to stable harmonies; Puccini’s Nessun Dorma from Turandot is peeled back to its skeletal framework away from the trappings of large orchestration and primo tenori. Chindamo exploits the oriental harmonies and along with Black’s violinistic devices  the aria gains a completely new identity straight out of jazz at midnight. It sets the scene for the segue into Gershwin’s It Ain’t Necessarily So and Earle Hagen’s classic Harlem Nocturne.

Have Chindamo and Black succeeded in creating a ‘new conversation’? Dido’s Lament is not the simplification of existing classics intended to woo a larger audience. This music extends and challenges without losing any of its integrity or entertainment value.

Shamistha de Soysa for SoundsLikeSydney©

Read our interview with Joe Chindamo when the new recording label was launched and the review of their previous CD ReImaginings.


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