Exposé Online banner

Petrina — Petrina
((Not on label) Ala Bianca ABR 128554069-2, 2013, CD)

by Jon Davis, Published 2015-09-27

Petrina Cover art

I had not heard of Debora Petrina until she was suggested to me by an email from Jolanda (She Owl) – both are Italian singers who play piano, but in most other ways, they are quite different. Petrina has been operating in the field of modern classical music for some time, with a recording of Morton Feldman piano works to her credit, and with In Doma (2009), she branched into vocal music. Her free-wheeling, all-sounds-considered approach is refreshing, and the instrumentation for the individual tracks varies considerably, from near solo keyboard to standard rock band to string quartet to electronics and so on. On “Little Fish from the Sky” a busy piano part is accompanied by some fairly abstract electronics, and then later hyperactive electronic percussion is added. “The Invisible Circus” has a wobbly organ part and odd spoken vocals at the beginning, then journeys through a number of sections of varying intensity, mostly with her singing accompanied by piano and martial drums, but with some synthesizer parts as well. Electric guitar makes occasional appearances, such as the noisy interjections on “Princess.” The arrangements for strings go well beyond simple transcription of piano parts, utilizing modern techniques and taking advantage of what the instruments can do beyond ordinary notes. On “Denti” the acoustic piano of the other tracks is replaced by electric piano, and there’s an almost funky groove with the drums and guitar. “I Fuochi d’Artificio” brings in a tuba for the bass part and klezmer-like clarinet in the ensemble, along with trumpet, accordion, and marimba. “Sky-Stripes in August” gets two different treatments, one with electric instruments and one with prepared piano and orchestral backing. “Vita da Cani” is a whimsical song with animal noises (mostly dogs) in the background. I could go on and on… every song is a winner, and each has its own distinct identity, all held together by Petrina’s engaging voice. The lyrics are divided maybe half-and-half between Italian and English, and no matter what language she sings in, her voice is wonderful, pretty but not too pretty, with strength or delicacy as needed for the situation. The compositions are sophisticated and varied, informed by both modern avant-garde and solid pop-craft, straddling divergent styles comfortably. Petrina (the album) is an amazing accomplishment; Petrina (the artist) is a talent to watch, sure to astound us again in the future.


Filed under: New releases, 2013 releases

Related artist(s): Debora Petrina

Latest news

2017-02-20
Larry Coryell RIP – One of the greats of jazz guitar has left us at the age of 73. Larry Coryell was one of the founding figures of jazz fusion, but produced a significant body of work the bridged many styles. His group Eleventh House provided a unique take on the combination of jazz and rock that was distinct from contemporaries such as Mahavishnu Orchestra, Return to Forever, and Weather Report. » Read more

2017-01-31
John Wetton RIP – After a long battle with colon cancer, singer and bassist John Wetton has died at the age of 67. As an integral member of such bands as King Crimson, UK, and Asia, his was one of the distinctive voices in progressive rock, lending a human touch to often difficult music. » Read more

2017-01-30
Seaprog Announces First Artists for 2017 – The organizers of the Seaprog Festival in Seattle have announced the first set of confirmed performers for the 2017 festival. The best known names are Cabezas de Cera and Jack o' the Clock, but a host of other bands are featured, mostly from the Northwest. The festival will take place June 2-4, 2017. » Read more

2017-01-27
Acoustic Festival of Britain 2017 Announces Eclectic Lineup – The Acoustic Festival of Britain has been going since 2006, and this year's event sees a number of outstanding artists on the bill. Fairport Convention, Tir na nOg, and Martin Turner are some of the artists we've covered, and there are many more, including The Men They Couldn't Hang, Howard Jones, Chantel McGregor, and many more. The festival runs June 2-4, 2017 at Uttoxeter Racecourse in Staffordshire. » Read more

2017-01-26
Butch Trucks RIP – Butch Trucks was one of two drummers in the first incarnation of the Allman Brothers Band in 1969, helping the band achieve its legendary status as an American original. He died on January 24, 2017 of a self-inflicted gunshot would. He was 69. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Ancient Future - Asian Fusion – Around 1980, Ancient Future released two excellent albums of acoustic world-music, the second of which (Natural Rhythms) remains a landmark of the genre, with its surreal eccentricity and sonic...  (1994) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues