Sunday, April 20, 2014

Brown Shoes Don't Make It

I recently discovered this duo. Two classically trained musicians from Florence, Italy,  Pierpaolo Romani, clarinet and bass clarinet and Andrea Pennati, classical guitar, who call themselves Inventionis Mater. They have an recording called, Does Humor Belong In Classical Music?. 
In their own words from their website: 
They have arranged many compositions by Frank Zappa as duets for classical guitar and clarinets The Inventionis Mater Duo is a project born of the encounter between the clarinetist Pierpaolo Romani and the guitarist Andrea Pennati. The purpose is write down the Zappa gigantism for a duo so little frequented as the clarinet and guitar duo is. To the question of what meaning Frank Zappa had for rock music and what for classical music of the late twentieth century Inventionis Mater certainly does not answer. But they take the bright and eccentric rock of Frank Zappa and return it back to the audience in a duo transcription reduced to the need of essentiality. A transcript that is translation, never distortion. A trip between stylistic and timbre versatility, from rhythm 'n blues to dodecaphonic atmospheres. A duo that tells a story in which the protagonist is an American composer who was able to draw from rock music of the XX century what the great romantic composers drew from folk music. One of the few who knew how to use the difficult simplicity resulting from the purification of complexity. The Inventionis Mater tells you about Zappa: an acrobat on the thin line between Art music and Pop music. A genius who has managed to create a language - a truly contemporary music - mirror of the postmodern eclecticism, not forgetting the pleasure of irony and intellectual taste for hearing.

In my opinion, they have transcended their purpose magnificently. Faithful transcriptions of the original pieces that never alter the original melodic intent, but only illuminate the real compositional originality and playfulness of Zappa, the composer. I chose this performance of Brown Shoes Don't Make It, which Zappa referred to as an Oratorio from his second record, Absolutely Free because if you are familiar with the original, you will understand the high level of humor that Inventionis Mater operates on. It's a piece you would never have expected anyone to try to cover or reinterpret in any event, but their rendition is incredible. I would suggest you check them out, here is a direct link to a page with their YouTube channel, Facebook, Sound Cloud and Google Plus. I think Frank would have like them very much and to quote his favorite quotation from Edgar Varese, his musical hero:
"The modern day composer refuses to die!"

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