Marinella Venegoni – An article – La Stampa 18.04.2001

By Marinella Venegoni – La Stampa
18.04.2001

It is NOT a half-hearted encounter, this one between two authentic champions of popular music, Mimmo Modugno and MINA, an encounter from which comes that long-announced album that now finally arrives (it is available from tomorrow, Thursday 20) under the provocative title of “Sconcerto.” It is not halfway because MINA goes beyond affectionate philological retrieval, and instead engages in a wholly original reinterpretation of some of the Apulian artist’s multifaceted cornerstones. From the most passionate themes (“Tu si’ ‘na cosa grande,” “Resta cu’mme”) to the humorous overtones (“Pasqualino Marajà,” or the funny “Donna riccia”), MINA wanted to pay homage – but an absolutely authorial homage – to a unique character (who “had no models and no emulators,” say the notes accompanying the album, and they seem to have been written by her, in the style that readers of “La Stampa” know well). The performer’s stated intention was therefore to give up the temptation (“perhaps the easiest one”) to chase Modugno, and instead reread his songs as “pages of a diary, not personal, but sentimental, absorbing their meaning and reason and making them her own.” The result is thus a very “miniscule” album and in some ways of surprising and yet unexpected rereadings, also a small jewel of musical atmospheres. The album opens with an excruciating vocal attack, on the refrain of “Tu sì ‘na cosa grande,” transformed into an over-the-top piece, full of arabesque sonorities and vocals; and closes with “Volare”: here the challenge of a song worn out by repetition is resolved in a fragment removed from iconography, which almost immediately turns into a goodbye to fans, with the voices of the musicians from the background saying goodbye after concluding the work. With the risk, always, of the predictability of a much worn repertoire, the eleven songs end up as a necklace of rediscoveries. Where we remembered the suffered carnality typical of the author, MINA has instead sought the path of rarefaction: it happens, for example, in “Strada ‘nfosa” and in the two lyrics signed by Enrica Bonaccorti, “Amara Terra Mia” and especially “La Lontananza,” which becomes imbued with an elegant saudade; even “Notte di luna calante” has soft, easy-listening sounds, with the voice dusting off certain accents of the more girlish and jaunty MINA; “Dio come ti amo” chooses instead the drama of the lower notes; “Resta cu’mme” becomes a kind of dialogue, and the deep voice of one of the musicians ends up bringing to mind an episode that made the era thirty years ago, Alberto Lupo’s “parole parole.” The freedom of a musical score that smells of jazz is everywhere remarkable, and in fact the usual album notes explain, “The arrangements are by those who played and sang”; and it is still those notes that remind us that this “is not properly a MINA-singer-soloist-with-instrumental-accompaniments album, but the record of a jazz ensemble of which MINA is the vocalist.” This intention is also captured graphically, in the album cover, where tuxedoed musicians (including the handsome Massimiliano Pani, the artist’s son) crown Notre Dame sumptuously in black, with a daguerreotype reminiscent of the Modern Jazz Quartet’s black-and-white lights. And the musicians are those who routinely accompany the performer, from Danilo Rea to Braido, from Daniele Di Gregorio to Franco Ambrosetti’s flugelhorn, with even the string orchestra conducted by Gianni Ferrio. The very accurate recording is by Carmine Di, and this album also saw the light of day with the working method well documented by the recent Internet event in which MINA returned to show herself to her audience. Having now broken the image taboo, the booklet attached to the CD has beautiful studio photos, with the performer at the microphone or chatting with the musicians. Coming out of her proud isolation, MINA is thus as if she were back a little more among us; and, who knows then why, even her voice on this album seems closer and more human to us. Plus his, MINA’s.

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