2015 Top 10s & 20s
Roomful Of Teeth

David Arend
Artificial Intelligence
Nimrod Borenstein
Randal Collier-Ford
Julien Demoulin
Denki Udon
R. Nathaniel Dett
Dwiki Dharmawan
Yair Etziony
Marina Fages
Francesco Di Fiore
Flowers for Bodysnatchers
From the Mouth of the Sun
Markus Guentner
Momenta Quartet
Music Komite
North Atlantic Explorers
Prequel Tapes
Alessandro Stella
Swarm Intelligence
Robert Scott Thompson
Trigg & Gusset
Aino Tytti
Andy Vaz
We Mythical Kings
Sebastian Zangar

Compilations / Mixes / Remixes / Reissues
Dub Phizix
Stacey Pullen
A Simple Procedure
Tour De Traum X

EPs / Cassettes / DVDs / Mini-Albums / Singles
Big Phone
Great Panoptique Winter
Mute Forest
Thee Koukouvaya
Joshua Van Tassel

Francesco Di Fiore: Pianosequenza
Zefir Records

Though Pianosequenza features Italian pianist Francesco Di Fiore's renderings of film-based material by Michael Nyman, Philip Glass, and Yann Tiersen, as strong a drawing card for the seventy-minute recording is the inclusion of pieces by William Susman and Di Fiore himself—not because their material is superior to their better-known counterparts, but simply because it's refreshing to have less familiar compositions accompany others that have surfaced in recorded form a number of times already. That being said, some lesser-known pieces by that aforesaid trio appear, too: arriving after three well-known selections from Nyman's award-winning soundtrack to Jane Campion's The Piano, for example, comes “If,” four delicate minutes of wistful melancholia from the 1995 animated treatment The Diary of Anne Frank by Akinori Nagaoka.

As his three selections on the release indicate, Di Fiore's a composer as well as pianist, and his work encompasses chamber and orchestral music, film soundtracks, and music for theatre productions, both classical and contemporary. He's not wanting for ambition, either: in 2011, he tackled an enormous project called Miniature 2011 that involved the uploading of a new composition each week, the ultimate outcome being fifty-three pieces and approximately 210 minutes of new music. Composed for At Precisely Six O'Clock, a 2013 independent film by Giuseppe Gigliorosso, Di Fiore's three tracks are an endearingly elegant bunch, from the gentle “Stella” and “Nicola” to the pensive “Paride.” Though the six short selections William Susman wrote for When Medicine Got It Wrong, a 2000 award-winning documentary about schizophrenia, come last, they're in no way an afterthought to the twenty pieces preceding them. The American composer, whose Octet Ensemble album Scatter My Ashes impressed us so mightily upon its late-2014 release, impresses here too with the Schubert-like elegance of “Main Title,” stately delicacy of “Full Humanity,” and the dream-like lull of “No Money.” Such material feels in no way out of place amongst the Nyman and Glass content.

Familiarity hasn't in any way diminished the exquisite character of Nyman's selections from The Piano, particularly when “Big My Secret,” “The Sacrifice,” and “Lost and Found” are executed with such depth of feeling, and the four pieces from Glass's soundtrack to Stephen Daldry's The Hours are as expertly rendered. Slightly less well-known is Glass's music for Peter Weir's The Truman Show; better yet, “Living Waters” is an ominously dark setting that stands out for being rather uncharacteristic of the composer. Elsewhere, Tiersen's haunting “Le Moulin” and “La Valse d'Amélie” will revive memories of Amélie to the legions of fans charmed by the film. As listeners acquainted with the music of such figures would anticipate, Pianosequenza achieves a strong uniformity in featuring melodically pronounced music that was originally composed for piano (it's perhaps no accident that Di Fiore chose to open the collection with pieces from The Piano) and is strongly rooted in a sensibility indebted to minimalism (post-minimalism, if you prefer).

December 2015