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Album Review: A Broken Record, Part 2
Christian Calcatelli
Cover image of the album A Broken Record, Part 2 by Christian Calcatelli
A Broken Record, Part 2
Christian Calcatelli
2004 / Christian Calcatelli
73 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
A Broken Record, Part 2 is a selection of music taken from the historical and record-breaking CALX Project 2004 (“the longest solo music internet broadcast” at 60 hours and 1 minute), which took place in Rome, Italy from 9/15-17, 2004. Please read my review of Part 1 for more information about the event itself. As on Part 1, all of the music on this CD is a fascinating journey. The pieces are not presented in chronological order, but the liner notes inform us of when during the event the music was created. It’s amazing that Calcatelli never gets sloppy or trite and the music just keeps coming. His liner notes are personal and enlightening, and offer real insight into what was happening musically as well as within the gallery where he was continuously improvising with only 15-minute breaks every eight hours.

Highlights of Part 2 include “Yesterday’s Waltz,” a piece using a device that Calcatelli calls the Calx Matrix, where all of the letters of the alphabet are assigned specific notes. An elderly man requested an impromptu on his wife’s name, Rita. Taking the four notes from her name and observing the couple together, Calcatelli created a beautiful waltz that flows with love and contentment. “Little Huhola Learns to Walk” is another funny little scherzo. Calcatelli comments that his comic side seemed to only come out late into the night. “Daylight Coming” is a gorgeous variation on one of the two themes that recurred at different times during the marathon. I really like this one - introspective, gentle, and very elegant. It does become a bit tempestuous in the middle section, but that’s the nature of improvisation - going where the music takes you. “Blessed With a Friend” is one of the more subdued pieces, and also one of the more structured. Warm and intimate, this piece has a wonderful, peaceful flow. “Memories On the Shelf” is almost sixteen minutes long, and includes the sounds from a huge rainstorm. I really like the two really long pieces on both CDs, as they clearly demonstrate the organic way the music evolves from one theme to another. This is also one of the showier pieces, allowing Calcatelli to show what a fine pianist he is. “Sulle Onde” is a wonderful depiction of everything that happens over the waves of the ocean - sometimes dark and turbulent, often peaceful, and always inspiring. “Stuck In a Dream” is a bit more abstract and mysterious, creating the feeling of a confusing dream that you can’t quite wake up from. Voices can be heard in the background, but the words aren’t clear. Calcatelli plucks the strings in places to alter the sound. Very effective! “Fire Dance (Finale)” is the triumph of being five minutes from the end of the marathon. People are cheering and clapping their hands in all different rhythms, confusing Calcatelli, who after playing for sixty hours adjusts his rhythm to fit the audience’s! He didn’t really know how much longer he had to play, so the audience counts down the final ten seconds, and Calcatelli responds with a big glissando and continues to play for another minute. His exhaustion is palpable, but what a heroic track! At the end, balloons explode and the champagne starts to flow as the people there chant, “Christian, Christian!”

A Broken Record is a thrilling memoir of an incredible event. Both CDs plus three bonus tracks are available for download at www.calcatelli.com. Very highly recommended!
December 4, 2005
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