Passio Secundum Matthaeum - The Complete Work

"A new interpretation of a classic RPI title! This is quite an undertaking, but it comes off in an outstanding way, giving new life to old friends. In contrast to so many reworkings of old pieces that I've heard in recent years, this one does not leave me only wishing to listen to the original. Rather, the new work stands well on its own, not only helping me listen to the original with new ears, but also bringing new insights and experience.

In 1972, Latte e Miele released their debut, an incredibly ambitious work based on the Passion of St. Matthew, "Passio Secundum Mattheum." This is one of the seminal titles of 1970s RPI and has rightfully stood the test of time. The band would never equal this album, although the subsequent title, "Papillon", came close. After that the band broke up for a time, until drummer Alfio Vitanza reformed the band, with new members including bassist Massimo Gori. Their only album, "Aquile e Scoiattoli", has its moments but is inferior to the first two, and the band disbanded a few years later after moving toward more commercial music.

In 2008 the band reformed, including all three original members (Vitanza and songwriter/keyboardist Oliviero Lacagnina, as well as guitarist Marcello Giancarlo Dellacasa) and Massimo Gori, bassist from the second generation of the band. The quartet released "Live Tasting", an excellent live album that portended of the good to come. Their time together also produced a wonderful new album, "Marco Polo: Sogni e Viaggi" in 2009.

Over the years, Lacagnina never stopped composing his masterpiece, his "Passio". Now the quartet has recorded anew their masterpiece, adding those "new" compositions into the narrative. For example, "Il Pane e il Sangue dell'Alleanza" has been inserted right after "Ultima Cena", and "Il Rinnegamento di Pietro" and "Il Prezzo del Sangue" between "Il Pianto" and "Giuda". Also, the ending has been fleshed out significantly, with four new songs, and the final song, "Come un Ruscello che..." includes the final themes previously entitled "Il Dono della Vita". Also of note, a solo organ piece entitled "Toccata per organo" is placed just before "Calvario"--this is special, as it is an original take from 1972!

The instrumentation is true to the spirit of the 1972 piece, although with an updated sound. Ditto the choir, which sometimes on the 1972 version is muted and thin--here the choir parts are strong, lush, and vibrant. The majority of the pieces that were rerecorded for this edition also maintain their compositional structure, although there are a few changes inserted (notably in "I Falsi Testimoni", the new version of "I Testimoni" parts 1 and 2). There is nothing that violates that spirit of the original work, though it is impossible to duplicate its wonderful innocence.

Another unique feature of this album is the presence of several prominent figures from RPI providing the spoken Evangelist parts. These include Alvaro Fella (Jumbo), Lino Vairetti (Osanna), Silvana Aliotta (Circus 2000), Paolo Carelli (Pholas Dactylus), Aldo de Scalzi (Picchio dal Pozzo), Sophya Baccini, Elisa Montaldo (Il Tempio delle Clessidre), Giorgio D'Adamo (New Trolls), Max Manfredi, Simonluca, and Paolo Griguolo (Picchio dal Pazzo). It's a nice touch that really rounds out the album.

The CD comes in a jewel case with a lyric booklet. I'm told that the pending Japanese version will contain a newly recorded composition as a bonus track. But don't wait for that one--go out and grab this one. You won't be disappointed. Four plus stars (Gnosis 13/15).

Edit: I can't stop listening to this! Though it's not quite as good as the original, it's very close. I'm bumping it up to Gnosis 14/15, which is five stars on PA." - ProgArchives

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