Buona Novella

La Buona Novella

by Fabrizio De André
     
 
La Buona Novella is a concept album inspired by the life of Jesus Christ. This is, of course, a topic that has been done in every media and in every possible way since year AD 1, as it constitutes the central story of Christianity, and by extension of a good deal of Western culture. What could have possessed Fabrizio De André to undertake such a project, given

Overview

La Buona Novella is a concept album inspired by the life of Jesus Christ. This is, of course, a topic that has been done in every media and in every possible way since year AD 1, as it constitutes the central story of Christianity, and by extension of a good deal of Western culture. What could have possessed Fabrizio De André to undertake such a project, given his anarchist, anti-bourgeois stance that had so often run him into trouble with the Church, for the allegedly blasphemous content of his songs? Clearly, he had to expect controversy from the right (which was probably welcomed, anyway), but he also risked alienating his own leftist audience, considering the serious, deeply respectful tone of this work. An independent, uncompromising artist if there ever was one, De André did not care either way; and we should all be thankful, for his retelling is nothing but astonishing. Several factors contribute to the stunning originality of La Buona Novella. First of all, De André uses the Apocryphal Gospels as his main source instead of the official versions. The main change is one of perspective, as the story of Jesus is not told by the disciples, but by minor characters who are casual (and often unwilling) witnesses: the thieves, their mothers, the carpenter who builds the crosses, Mary and Joseph. By contrast, not only there is no song by Jesus, but also his entire life and miracles are bypassed altogether. The first side of the LP deals with Mary's childhood and pregnancy and ends with her exile, while the second is entirely dedicated to the Crucifixion. There is no Resurrection either. Jesus is thus portrayed neither as a preacher (he does not speak) nor as a divine being (he does not perform miracles), but as a misfit, a rebel who stood out against the powers that be -- and lost. Above all, he is nothing but human. In these respects, this album is the sonic equivalent of Pier Paolo Pasolini's extraordinary film The Gospel According to St. Matthew (1964) (an obvious influence for De André), but it also aligns itself with a tradition of Italian art that dates back to the 14th century and Giotto's Scrovegni Chapel frescoes. Such a perspective also wonderfully integrates this record into De André's oeuvre, always taking the side of the oppressed, the marginal, and all those left behind by History. As impressive or bold as its ideas are, La Buona Novella would not amount to much if the songs were not up to the task, but De André is here at the absolute peak of his powers. Composed and recorded over a year in collaboration with arranger Gian Piero Reverberi and producer Roberto Dané, the album is a fully achieved suite for narrator, choir, and orchestra. Typically, De André sings/ talks over acoustic guitar arpeggios embellished by the orchestra, and the story is punctuated by the choir's interventions. Contrary to De André's first concept album Tutti Morimmo a Stento, here the choir blends perfectly with the music, serving a Greek tragedy-like function of commenting on the events, but also effectively connecting this album on a musical level to the modes of Christian liturgy. The texts are superb, and at the same time bone-chilling and deeply moving in their depiction of injustice and abuse, innocence and suffering. A true concept album, La Buona Novella features no stand-out tracks but a continuum of unforgettable vignettes and characters. However, its most famous song "Il Testamento di Tito," can justifiably be called its centerpiece since it brilliantly encapsulates the provocative essence of the album As he is dying in the cross, the thief Tito remembers how society forced him from birth to a life of poverty and crime, never offering him any alternative. Over ten long verses, Tito takes each of the Ten Commandments to task, lucidly and ruthlessly dismantling every one as he denounces the double moral standards and hypocrisy of a society (and religion) that supposedly professes those rules. A thoughtful yet heartfelt examination of the figure of Jesus Christ by an anarchist songwriter , La Buona Novella is an unique, improbable work of art that is both deeply pious and unflinchingly secular at the same time. A miracle.

Product Details

Release Date:
11/26/2002
Label:
Sony/Bmg Italy
UPC:
0743219744524
catalogNumber:
197445
Rank:
69046

Tracks

  1. Laudate Dominum
  2. L' Infanzia Di Maria
  3. Il Ritorno di Giuseppe
  4. Il Sogno di Maria
  5. Ave Maria
  6. Maria nella Bottega d'un Falegname
  7. Via Della Croce
  8. Tre Madri
  9. Il Testamento di Tito
  10. Laudate Hominem

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