Extraordinary sensibility on show

The small audience who gathered, undeterred by winter's sudden arrival, to hear solo pianist Francesco Turrisi perform at the Glenroy Auditorium on Tuesday evening were not disappointed.

Turrisi showcased his extraordinary musical sensibility, fine technique he successfully intermingled with displays of majestic gravity.

Turrisi's jazz idiom draws on the filigreed baroque sounds executed with sublime ease. His works favour ethereal, wistful and sweetly introspective rumination. Sudden chromatic shifts and unprepared harmonic leaps excite the ear and disrupt the reverie of otherwise mantric-like repetition of phrases.

Overall, his sound keeps to an essentially late Romantic tradition. His habit of vocalising, though in tune, has famous precedents in John Ogdon and Chick Corea but doesn't always make a positive addition to the performance.

Highlights included Volo Meglio Solo, which illustrates the freedom and dangers of solo performance through rhythmic risk-taking; Isole, which delves into the isolation and insulation of island nations; Taksim, which explores the Arabian practice of acclimatising the listeners' ears to the evening's mode; and Toccata Cromatica, which showcased Turrisi's meld of intricacies of baroque and jazz idioms.

Moments when Turrisi uses the lower register of the piano with acerbic chords as in the opening of Mi Mariposa Hermosa are welcome.

Albeit all too brief, they provide stimulating juxtaposition to his prolific use of pensive treble meanderings.

His works draw on snatches of known melodies from various cultural influences, including Irish, Italian and Arabian. They manage to highlight the similarities of these modal idioms.

-By Marian Poole

Francesco Turrisi
Glenroy Auditorium
Tuesday,  June 18

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