Riccardo Piacentini plays along as images from his travels are shown on the projector. Photo by Austin Dickey.
For decades, Duo Alterno has toured the world performing in over fifty countries, serenading the world with powerful vocals and skillful piano play. This past Thursday the duo added the Linehan Concert Hall to their prestigious list of venues with their performance of “Foto-songs from Italy and the World.”
Originally from Turin, Italy, Tiziana Scandaletti (Soprano) and Riccardo Piacentini (Piano) have taken their talents all over the globe, and also published nineteen CDs over the course of their illustrious career as the Duo Alterno. This concert looked to reflect upon their travels with foto-songs, or songs that were accompanied by pictures and sounds from the streets of four cities that they have visited.
The show opened up with Piacentini giving an enthusiastic introduction, explaining what the duo had in store for the crowd that night. The excitement in his voice rang through the concert hall, reflecting his genuine desire to perform for the eager audience. The show began smoothly, as Scandaletti showcased an impressive vocal range that could transition notes seamlessly, even on the most technical of songs. The same went for Piacentini’s piano play, which could switch tempo instantaneously as well as delicately hit keys, providing a softer sound when needed.
As for the foto-songs, while having good intention, they simply did not match the artistic standard that their more traditional music had set. A slideshow of amateur pictures was projected on a screen while sounds of the various cities played from a recording. It seemed more like someone showing off their vacations, rather than a carefully thought-out performance like the rest of the show was.
With four foto-songs from Australia, Brazil, the United States and China, the show’s mood was constantly brought down with the underwhelming PowerPoints. Had there been better photography, the sounds of the cities would have complemented the pictures nicely and would have made for an interesting feature to their concert. Unfortunately, the lack of quality made for dull moments in the duo’s concert.
There were also a couple moments where the piano needed to be tuned and Scandaletti was forced to stop mid-note at times to cough a bit before continuing on as if nothing happened. While both miscues were more circumstantial than anything, and definitely do not happen often to the group, it still took away from the performance as a whole which was disappointing knowing their prestigious reputation throughout the years.
While the show had its pitfalls, the duo’s chemistry was impressive. In some songs, Piacentini would chime in to complement Scandalettti’s voice at times that only the most in-sync musicians would be able to recognize. During one song, Piacentini would even meow like a cat, which made the audience chuckle and lightened the mood of the auditorium. It was apparent that the two have been working together and perfecting their styles for an extremely long period of time.
Although Duo Alterno’s trip to UMBC was not their most memorable performance, it was still a privilege to be in the presence of such accomplished musicians. With their traveling years behind them, the foto-songs and video projections seemed to be a way to reminisce on their many trips in life, and while things may not have worked perfectly, the Duo Alterno still managed to show their musical excellence.