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coverpic flag Italy - Full Moon 89 - 01/07/04

Massimo Aiello
Tribute to Beethoven: Drum in the Symphony no. 9
Azzurra Musik

Italian drummer experiments with 180 year old symphony, and the result is better than you might think.

As a drummer, I sometimes find myself tapping out rhythms when I'm listening to music with no drums or percussion. Not because there's anything wrong with drumless music, but I just like to experiment and imagine what it would sound like with drums. Italian drummer Massimo Aiello has taken this concept a bit further by recording himself playing drums along with Beethovens famous ninth symphony. You know, the one with that beautiful melody - "Ode to Joy" - that the bad guy is humming in "Die Hard". Not to mention the countless other movies it's been used in.

Now, I can imagine that purists have huge problems with someone recording drums onto a classical piece in this manner, so let me just say this: If you love classical music and believe that it should only be played as the composer wrote it, then stay away from this recording. If, on the other hand, you love classical music, and don't mind it being experimented with, this could be well worth checking out.

Aiello has used a recording of Beethoven's ninth symphony by the Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra (with their permission, I hope), and recorded his drums along with that. Rather than just playing straight beats, he uses his drums and cymbals like an orchestra in itself, complimenting - rather than overpowering - the symphony. The drums are lower in the mix than you might expect, perhaps even too low at times. On some of the louder parts, the orchestra almost drowns out the drums. It's not really a problem, though, and I think it says more of Massimo Aiello's sense of dynamics than anything.

Throughout the 71-minute CD, the drumming is often quite "jazzy", which has a very interesting effect on the overall sound. There is also some nice cymbal work on the quiet parts, and some tom-tom bombast on the louder bits. There is a short drum intro to the third movement, and a longer solo towards the end of the fourth movement, which, again, does not intrude upon Beethoven's masterpiece, but rather complements it. As the title says, it's a tribute. And it works, thanks to Massimo Aiello's melodic drumming.

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