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“Genteel”
Artist: Giacomo Fiore
Year: 2009

I met Giacomo Fiore in 2008 at a house concert I gave at luthier Alan Perlman’s San Francisco home. Several years prior to that meeting we’ve been exchanging views and opinions on Acoustic Guitar Magazine’s Classical Corner online forum. In all counts, the tall and lanky Genovese comes across as a warm, personable and easily likable guy: and these descriptors are easily applied to his wonderful guitar playing as well.

“Genteel” is his 2nd release and is dominantly classical in its approach, no doubt tempered from his studies with David Tanenbaum at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. The overall feel of the record is that of a performer who is one with his instrument and plays with great command, sensitivity and a love for and of the music that is evident from start to finish.

The material is mixed fare: from Renaissance (da Milano’s Ricercare and Fantasia), Baroque (Scarlatti’s Sonata K208) to World/Folk music (Stefania, Tarantella, Scottish Lute selections, Sakura, Farewell to Stromness), to the Beatles (In my life, Yesterday), to his own composition, and the CD’s title track, “Genteel”. While programming-wise the selections may not make sense at first, the exuberant playing all throughout wefts through the music forming a sort of musical tapestry.

My last statement is confirmed after reading the liner notes. Each piece is from a particular stage of Fiore’s development as a musician, and is dedicated to his mentor of that period. The liner notes are written from a personal slant: there is enough information to give insight behind each piece, and informal enough to make them endearing.

While I enjoyed the whole disc, there are a few tracks that stood out for me. Pasquale Taraffo’s “Stefania” is a spirited, spicy and infectious piece that oozes Mediterranean flavor. Peter Maxwell-Davies’ “Farewell to Stromness” is beautifully played… despite closing the disc, it certainly hints of exciting future offerings from this artist.

I should also mention Fiore’s “Genteel”. One of the word’s definitions is “elegant or graceful in manner, appearance, or shape”, and this piece certainly embodies that definition in musical form. Sensitively played, the melody is something that sticks in one’s head and gladly carried throughout the day.

Giacomo’s Paul McGill guitar is captured quite nicely, providing a warm timbre to the music. The recorded sound has roomy reverb that doesn’t overpower the music and lends a sense of intimacy to the listener. However, I would have preferred to have longer silences in between tracks. It’s a little surprising at first to have the next track start right away as I was still digesting the previous track. One gets jolted especially when a lively piece like “Stefania” suddenly comes in as the strains of the Scarlatti Sonata have just barely faded!

All in all, a highly recommended release from an artist worth watching out for. Find out more at http://www.giacomofiore.com


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Tags: cd, classical, fiore, genteel, giacomo, guitar, review

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Comment by Don Clark on April 1, 2009 at 7:18pm
I received my copy of Genteel at the post office just this past Monday. Genteel is all that's been on my player since. Artful. Sensitive. Controlled. I so much appreciate his work. I've had the pleasure of being acquainted with Giacomo Fiore for the last year and a half, primarily at the Soundhole Guitar Forum. He has been a joy to follow, and will be a pleasure to meet. Sometime, J. *Don

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