Gianluca Piacenza is a classically trained Italian musician based in Piancenza, Italy. An accomplished pianist, sound designer, and composer, Piacenza’s work showcases a natural propensity for cleverly textured and beautifully orchestrated tracks, that blend acoustic instruments with stunning digital effects. The release of ‘Dream’, a budding five track album, is his first foray into the world of indie artistry, and an incredible showcase of his talents.
Fusing gentle, linger melodies with subtle electronic textures, ‘Dream’ opens with the lavish soundscape of the title track. A quiet, harmonious song, it wavers between ambient and serene before slowly fading into a series of softening piano notes. On ‘Reflections’ and ‘This Is Real’, Piacenza’s sense for tradition and his classical influences shine through, with a complex arrangement of emotive notes and powerful tones seeping through the dream-like state of his sound reverberates against more somber moments. In the final tracks of ‘Mutations’ and ‘Lullaby’, the tone turns more noticeably experimental, as the blend of acoustic textures and electronic utterances shift towards a medley of manipulated natural sounds and soft synthesizers. There is a wonderful moment when the cascading sounds bloom together, and from the maelstrom of tones comes a vibrant, orchestral soundscape that is as beautiful as it is captivating.
While only five tracks long, ‘Dream’s holds within it a wealth of talents, ideas, and innovations that linger for hours after they’ve faded. The combination of intricate composition, subtle layering of textures, and the mingling between the natural world and the electronic is incredibly captivating, and the sonic world that Piacenza has created is undeniably brilliant.
Nighttime. Full moon. A good meal, wine, sake, cheese and homegrown cherry tomatos. The possible sight of ‘falling stars’ in the Pleiades. If ‘the seven sisters’ are kind to us, this might be a magical night. So what better music to play than some beautiful modern classical music with nothing but piano and some minimal soundscapes?
Gianluca Piacenza is a pianist, composer and sound designer from Piacenza, Italy and he loves making music, according to his website. This album is available as a digital download in most of the well-known online stores but unfortunately not on CD or vinyl (yet – it should). When he submitted this album for a review, he claimed to make music in the style of people like Nils Frahm, Jon Hopkins, Max Richter or Olafur Arnalds. In a way that’s true but to be quite honest, I really like this more than those.
I’ll tell you why. Many pianists/composers these days seem to have three possible inclinations. One is an electronic approach, filled with programmed percussion and layers of drones. The second is the look-what-I-can-do version, who stuns the audience with sheer speed. The final one is the one who needs an orchestra to make the whole complete. Gianluca Piacenza does things a bit different.
The album opens with title track ‘Dream’, a beautiful and quite romantic sounding piano piece without any soundscapes, electronics or orchestral arrangements as far as I can hear. Just piano, slow, dreamy and pure. On ‘Reflections’ the effects and ambient textures do appear but still in a gentle, quiet and restful fashion. From there the album continues to float in that direction and creates a wonderful atmosphere.
‘This Is Real’ follows a similar path as ‘Dream’, minor soundscapes in the background and an enchanting fairytale told by the ivory and hammers of the piano. ‘Mutations’ takes the level of experiment a bit higher by incorporating a minor but pulsating rhythm, breaking it down and slowly building it up again. The result is magnificent, a perfect electro-acoustic ambient track.
‘Lullaby’ is exactly what the title predicts. Somehow it indeed does remind me of the music on those musical mobiles above a baby’s crib, but of course in better sound quality and way better music alltogether. The song returns towards the minimal approach in the opening act of this album, making it a perfect finale.
So by all means, if you have ever said anything positive about the modern day composers who appear on jazz- and ambient festivals these days, you have to check out this music. If a romantic movie-soundtrack ever caused a tear in your eyes, you have to give Gianluca Piacenza a chance. This is pure talent…
Ecco un nuovo nome da tenere in considerazione per proseguire la compilazione di un’ideale mappa della crescente diffusione in Italia dei linguaggi del minimalismo neoclassico: è quello dell’emiliano Gianluca Piacenza, musicista che al pari di altri “colleghi” proviene da una formazione classica ma fortemente interessato alla combinazione delle note del suo pianoforte con accenni elettronici e con particolari soluzioni di registrazione.
Vi è però di più nelle coordinate artistiche che hanno presieduto alla realizzazione del suo primo lavoro, emblematicamente intitolato “Dream”, ovvero l’apertura intellettuale di Piacenza alle interpretazioni contemporanee della “modern classical” di compositori quali Max Richter, Nils Frahm, Dustin O’Halloran e altri ancora, considerate su un piano del tutto paritetico rispetto ai suoi trascorsi accademici.
Sulla base di tali presupposti tecnico-concettuali hanno preso forma i cinque brani raccolti in “Dream”, che del profilo dell’artista emiliano forniscono una prospettiva al tempo stesso semplice e composita: il primo aggettivo è senz’altro riferibile all’essenzialità dell’approccio compositivo, incentrato pressoché esclusivamente sul pianoforte, mentre il secondo attiene agli incastri e alle progressioni armoniche realizzate sul suo strumento, nonché alla varietà di sensazioni evocate dai brani.
In poco più di trenta minuti, “Dream” spazia infatti dalla consistenza soffice e, appunto, sognante, delle scorrevoli melodie della title track all’austera concretezza del reale di “This Is Real”, dalla danza leggiadra delle note rilucenti come gocce di rugiada di “Reflections” alla cullante delicatezza della conclusiva “Lullaby”. Il ruolo dell’elettronica, pur percepibile, è rivestito da semplici effetti digitali, spesso applicati in presa diretta sulle registrazioni e comunque tanto misurati da delimitare soltanto lo spazio sonoro entro il quale risuonano le note o da costituire diafane filigrane ambientali come quella che apre gli oltre nove minuti in crescendo di “Mutations”.
E proprio alla mutazione continua, alla fuggevolezza dell’istante, pare improntata la tavolozza di Gianluca Piacenza, che in “Dream” dimostra un’intrigante attitudine a coniugare linguaggi e mezzi espressivi, non limitata a una generica impostazione “cinematica”, bensì tale da poter stimolare in contemporanea corde intellettive ed emozionali.
Gianluca Piacenza is a classically trained pianist from Italy who just recently self-released his debut, Dream. This assured debut was created with acoustic piano, digital and analog processing, and electronic textures from synths and field recordings. Though Piacenza’s pieces do show the influence of figures like Nils Frahm and Max Richter in their use of repetition, they diverge from the work of other modern minimalist composers in that they focus more on melody in a wandering, impressionist manner. Moreover, Piacenza’s incorporation of electronics is mostly meant to make a delicate, soft-tone backdrop, as though this is intended to be the faint echo of the lead voice– in a way, Piacenza has more in common with Ryuichi Sakamoto than Nils Frahm. This one comes highly recommended to all fans of modern classical music.
Mr. Piacenza: Thirty-two minutes is not enough. Five tracks are not enough. Having listened to your debut release, Dream, many times over, it is simply not enough and I demand more. I demand more of your classical-inspired piano melodies and the gentle electronic treatments that accompany them. I want more of the soul-quieting, close-your-eyes-and-listen moments that wash over me on “Mutations.” I want more of the piercing emotion and rich phrasing that informs “Reflections.” I want more of the way you seem to coax the notes out of your piano rather than merely playing them. I want more of the elegant production work, so very clean and simple and a perfect match for your style. More of your use of the resonant sound of the fading notes as harmony and atmosphere. I kindly request more of the subtle strength of “This Is Real” with its long pads whispering beneath confident left-hand chords and the high melody that switches between graceful dance and hesitant admission of some kind of truth. I must insist on you giving me more music that I want to sit and listen to quietly as the sun sets at the end of a long day, or as I watch the way my wine catches and reflects the candlelight late in the evening. I want more of this music that can quite literally bring me to the edge of tears because it’s finding its way into my mind and heart and unlocking things in there.
Bravo, Signor Piacenza. Your album is amazing and deserves to be ranked with the best New Age albums of the year despite its brevity. And now, more, per favore.
Sul suo sito campeggia la scritta “I love making music”. E a giudicare dalle cinque tracce di questo suo primo lavoro, distribuito solo in digitale, c’è da credergli.
Gianluca Piacenza è un giovane compositore e pianista sulla cui cifra riecheggia l’influenza da un lato della musica classica, retaggio dei suoi studi accademici, dall’altro della scena ambient/elettronica.
Dream è un condensato di emozioni che richiamano certe intuizioni del Brian Eno anni ’70 e dove piano acustico ed elettronica interagiscono tra loro e concorrono alla creazione di panorami sonori muti, cinematici ed evocativi.
Niente cantato, solo i suoni di sintetizzatori e sampler a fare da sfondo a dolci e suadenti rintocchi di piano che si perdono nelle pianure dell’anima.
Un sogno che purtroppo dura solo mezz’ora ma che al risveglio resterà vìvido nella memoria di chi avrà voluto addormentarsi.