La Rassa a bute su fRoots

La Rassa A Bute is a musical drama that was written in the early 18th Century in the dialect of Lecce from the Salentine peninsula of southern Italy. The author of the piece is unknown and the original music has been lost, but a new score has been written by Fabio Turchetti. The style of the piece belongs to the opera buffa genre that is associated with Naples and was popular in Salento at that time.

The ensemble Khaossia was formed in 2005 by flautist Luca Congedo and vocalist and tambura player Viviana Calabrese. The ensemble is based in Cremona in northern Italy but specialise in the folk music of the Salento at the very southern tip of the coun­try. The ensemble comprises nine musicians for La Rassa A Bute, which includes a num­ber of vocalists plus instrumentation that includes violin, bouzouki, flutes and guitar. The composer and arranger Fabio Turchetti is also a member of the ensemble and plays accordeon (organetti) and harpsichord .

The music is organised into short scenes that contain songs and arias, interspersed with spoken passages and instrumental inter­ludes. The material is intended to be amus­ing, but the exaggerated comic vocal that occasionally appears is a little over the top. The songs pack in a lot of plot and explana­tion, which is frustrating when the listener cannot follow the language or the dialect, but the music is well arranged and per­formed. The instrumental sections are the most satisfying for the non-Italian speaker,especially when the musicans get a chance to stretch out over eight minutes of Lu Ranu.

Michael Hingston, fRoots  febbraio 2012

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