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Niccolo Neri  : Tre Ritratti : Bergmann

Niccolo Neri

Bergmann Edition : 20 pages


Italian- born Neri is a new name to me, but apparently he has his musical fingers in many different styles and here has composed three portraits which are of moderate difficulty, requiring quite a good technique to approach them successfully.

Gli Occhi Della Sconoscuita ( The Eyes of the Stranger) begins very mysteriously in a 4/4 E minor with two voices of harmonics, one  a constant on the beat  12th fret G, and the other an off- beat mixture of E’s F#s, and Bs. This creates a strange unnerving sound which is then joined by a low open E until the three voices of the main theme appear at bar 10. One or two of these opening bars then are a little confusing as regards the fingerings because they seem to be impossible. Take for example the last two beats of bar 16.You have a low minim E on string 6, and above that an F#  minim marked as string 4, finger 4 .Fair enough, but then you are to put in the middle of those two notes quavers of a B, string 5, finger 1  and THEN an E string 4 with your second finger, but by that point you have already used up the bottom 3 strings, so where are you supped to put this E with your second finger? It must be string 4, but that is where the melody F# is already sounding, and meant to go on til the end of the bar? Adding to that confusion are the three pairs of initials that are not explained. There is an ‘s.t.’ under a B on bar 13, then an ‘s.o.’ under a note on bar 15, and finally an ‘s.p.’ under a note on bar 16.Nothng is explained further and I have no idea to what they refer. Moreover they re3cur throughout this piece As for the piece itself it is moody, and has a definite atmosphere that was nicely captured.

Red Tango Shoes has a dropped 6th D and begins with a Lento introduction before becoming a full – blown Tango marked Vivace at bar 5.This has again a number of very clever, and interestingly unusual harmony notes in place that do again create quite an atmosphere. There are also a number of very quick sets of hammer – ons, and glissandi that give the Tango a properly Spanish feel.

The final Tra E Lum E U Scur (Between the light and the Dark) begins with an agitated four note pattern, of a triplet of semi – quavers ending with a quaver that takes over the first 18 bars, until a momentary pause heralds in a tremolo pattern that continues for the rest of the work until closing on a C Major chord, even though the piece is in E Major for the greater majority of the piece.

I found this trio of pieces intriguingly written, and apart from those oddities I mentioned earlier, well worth trying out. So if the moodiness of these three pieces sounds like something that you might like, then give them a try, as long as you can work through those odd bars!


Chris Dumigan

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