Whatever one expects of a contemporary composer — be that a degree in music and/or composition, or further study with an established composer as mentor — Italian-born Marco Baldini would probably not meet such expectations. Yes, he went to university, but he studied Roman archaeology, specialising in the iconography of early Christian sarcophagi. For a living he now works as a public librarian in a village in the hills surrounding Florence. His only recognisable music tuition came when he learned trumpet at the village band school to which his parents took him and his younger brother Lorenzo when they were children.
In 2011, along with composer & pianist Daniela Fantechi and bass clarinettist Edoardo Ricci, Baldini founded the ensemble Blutwurst with the idea of playing a certain kind of chamber improvisation. Since 2014, they have ceased improvising and only performed written compositions. Baldini started composing, mainly sharing the compositional process with Fantechi, who was academically trained. Only in the last few years has he started composing in a systematic way, the 2020 Covid lockdown having given him time to devote to composition, and to develop much more formal writing. In 2020, Another Timbre released Ricercar nell'ombra on which a seven-member Blutwurst performed the title piece by composer Emmanuel Holterbach, maybe bringing Baldini to the label's attention.
All seven tracks on this debut album Vesperi are Baldini compositions (with an eighth, "Bicinium", available as a download via Bandcamp). All were studio recorded in Florence in October 2021 or July 2022. Three of the pieces — "Corteccia", "Volta" and "Animuccia" — were based on excerpts of compositions by sixteenth century Italian composers Francesco Corteccia, Luca Marenzio and Giovanni Animuccia, with a fourth, "Malkosh", based on Raga Malkauns, a nocturnal pentatonic raga. Whatever the basis of Baldini's compositions, his most distinctive trademark is the instruments he deploys and the sounds they produce; four pieces are performed by two cellos and two double basses, including Blutwurst members Michele Lanzini on cello and Maurizio Constantini on bass. Their low sustained notes combine together in awesome gargantuan soundscapes which are as individual and distinctive as fingerprints. The remaining three pieces are performed by Lanzini and Costantini, joined by Francesco Toninelli on marimba; while subtly different to the other tracks, they too are readily identifiable as Baldini compositions, and are just as compelling, standing up well to repeated listening. On the basis of the tracks on this album, there is sufficient evidence to proclaim that Baldini has won his spurs as a composer and should be worth checking out well into the future.
Comments and Feedback: