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CD of the Week: Piffaro: Back Before Bach

Church Street Studios, LLC

Usually each musician featured on a CD plays only one instrument. With the Renaissance band Piffaro, that is not the case: each musician plays as many as seven instruments throughout this joyful new album of music that predates that of Bach and his contemporaries.

Late August in Boston evokes visions of move-in traffic, rented vans trapped on Storrow Drive, and amplified commuting headaches for all. Because of this, we wanted to bring you a late-summer CD of the Week to serve as an antidote to that stress. It would have to be fun, no doubt. It would have to be a soundtrack for those last few lazy beach days, and also be chock-full of energetic “steering wheel drumming” tunes.

The answer is Piffaro’s newest release, Back Before Bach. Plainly put, this group is a blast to listen to. The Philadelphia-based Renaissance ensemble focuses on audience experience: their concerts are a joyful listening experience, but also an educational one, in which the group’s multi-instrumentalists play up to forty different instruments in one show. On this album, one musician will play as many as seven different instruments - including winds, strings, and percussion - on different tracks.

On this new album, the early music group focuses on composers and combinations of instruments that preceded the Baroque era and served as influences for composers like Bach, Handel, and Vivaldi - thus the album title, Back Before Bach. Piffaro injects their unique whimsicality to the pieces, and after listening through the album, you’ll be both informed and in high spirits, not to mention unperturbed by that U-Haul stuck on Storrow.

And, if you're curious about the instruments used on this album, Piffaro has a great series of videos demonstrating them. Here's one:

Listen to a track from the album:

For more information and to purchase this recording, visit ArkivMusic.

Learn more about Piffaro: