Listening Log – [Pt. III]- FRANCESCO TRISTANO- Circle Song (2017)


Listening Log – [Pt. III]- FRANCESCO TRISTANO- Circle Song In February 2020 . Listened (download) to digital audio CD: ‘Piano Circle Songs’. (2017) on Label: Sony Music Classical. Composer/Performer: Francesco Tristano

The pianist/composer Francesco Tristano is someone who I have been aware of for a few years and who’s concerts I have attended. I generally enjoy his interpretations of Bach’s music and I am intrigued by his own compositions incorporating house music into classical music. He recently released an album which employs less beats and consists of his piano compositions. I was curious to see how much of his background in Baroque music might show in these compositions. I decided to actively listen to one of the more straightforward tracks Circle Song, off this album Piano Circle Songs.

The piece opens with Francesco playing an arpeggiated chord in the left hand whilst the right hand plays a simple high melody line in the right which repeats with only slight variations over and over again. He stays on this same chord for quite a while until he finally moves around harmonically in the left hand. There are some quite complex rhythmic variations and he occasionally syncopates the bass notes adding a lot of interest through relative simple means.

The piece then goes through a modulation with the same ideas repeated over a different tonal centre. The shifts in harmony and time signatures of the left hand under the ever repeating circular melody line in the right is what makes this composition so ephemeral and difficult to pin down. It is a deceptively simple construct and very sensitively and delicately performed. There is a presence of Bach in this music, although I struggle to pinpoint and verbalise exactly what it is. Maybe it is in combination of economy and complexity.

What adds modernity is the production where the piano is so effected (in the mix) that it nearly sounds like it is an electronic instrument and a keyboard bass line. Throughout the piece the reverb is increased until a phased delay gives the melody line an entirely other worldly and ghostly quality. I really really love this track!

Francesco Tristano – Circle Song (Official Video) Jul 21, 2017. © 2017 Sony classical