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Francesco Cataldo: Amaranto



Francesco Cataldo: Amaranto
Francesco Cataldo photographed by Francesco Castelli

The challenge of capturing – and painting with words – tone, colour, texture, and the subtlest sense of dynamics from pianissimo [mostly] to fortissimo [rarely] to describe the effect that the music of Amaranto by Francesco Cataldo has on the senses is Herculean. Firstly, the is the title of the album [Amaranto], which is like red earth, and is the official colour of the celebrated Catholic charity Caritas Internationalis.

Moreover, there is homage to the pianist’s late friend, Giuseppe Agosta, one-time director of Caritas in Syracuse, Sicily. And finally, there is the yeoman work – not only of the charitable organisation – but also the work done by Mr Agosta himself to improve the plight of the underprivileged for decades.

Cover of Amaranto by Francesco Cataldo – painting by Stefano Lazzari

However, the challenge for the writer is not nearly as Herculean as that of the pianist who set out to capture it all in song. And yet Mr Cataldo works left and right hands as if employing a weavers shuttle to entwine warp and weft in a deftly woven tapestry that – as if by magic – comes to life and sings softly and yet with uncommon heraldry.

Melody and harmony slither and slide one into another as, within this musical tapestry a picture of Mr Agosta [and Caritas Internationalis’] spreading the proverbial [“amaranth-coloured”] unconditional love through charitable works emerges.

The result is a fascinating meta-work [comprising eight miniatures, introduced by an introspective prologue and a quietly blissful epilogue] that creates myriad associations, resonances and breathtaking perspectives, not simply between [charitable] works by Mr Agosta by virtue of his directorship at Caritas.

More impressively there is the element of the pianist acting as an interloper examining with microscopic powers of observation, the interaction between individual and his works, and the effect that each has on the underprivileged.

The result is a magical canvas of sound – both written and improvised – in an almost ascetic musical language. Best of all there is that magical crossover where the language of sound and rippling ellipses, made as if eight fingers and two thumbs, like brushes depicting tone, colour, texture [using refined dynamics].

Each is a miniature painting depicting – among other things – loneliness [Empty Hallways], profound contemplation [Your Silence], quiet bliss [So Simple], among others. The collision of sound and narrative is a breathtaking exploration into the heart of Caritas, the dedicatee and the composer and performer of these magnificent works.  

Deo gratis…

Amaranto by Francesco Cataldo – a short teaser

Music – 1: Prologo; 2: Amaranto; 3: Vito raccontami; 4: Empty Hallways; 5: Better Days; 6: Two Colours; 7: Pictures; 8: Your Silence; 9: Rimas’ Mood; 10: Nothing by Chance; 11. Our Journey; 12: So Simple; 13: Epilogo.

Musician – Francesco Cataldo: piano.

Released – 2024
Label – Alfa Music AFMCD 299
Runtime – 37:17

Based in Canada, Raul is a poet, musician and accomplished critic whose profound analysis is reinforced by his deep understanding of music, technically as well as historically.

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