Contranella
contranella.com

Contranella, the CD
A review by Pamela Goddard

There's special power and in hearing family members play joyous dance music together.

Central New York is fortunate to have so many fabulous family bands playing northern style fiddle music: Glenrose (the Sloboda family from North Rose), Great Bear Trio (the VanNortrand family from Fulton), and Contranella from Manlius. Father and daughter John Wobus and Megan Wobus Beller have been playing contradances together for more than a decade, and they've just released a recording which fully expresses their creativity and musicianship.

Fiddle music is dance music, and Contranella has honed its style playing for dances, using traditional, contemporary, and many original tunes. The Wobuses, with Charley Beller's tasteful percussion, have played at the New England Folk Festival, and at contradances in Toronto, Ohio, and Indiana. They play with a purity and clarity rooted in a deep understanding of the tradition. At it's best, Contranella's music combines a dark intensity with playful whimsy.

John grew up studying classical piano, spent a part of his college career as a piano performance major, later doing graduate work in music theory. During college, John took up a number of folk instruments and developed an avid interest in Old Time, Irish, and contradance music. Eventually, John came to apply his piano skills to this music, bringing together his experience as a contradancer, a melody-instrument player, his musical knowledge, and his piano technique. Megan Beller first picked up fiddle from her father and began playing contradances while in high school. She polished her technique at Eastman School of Music, and now performs and teaches fiddle and violin in the Rochester area.

Contranella, the CD, has ten cuts, mostly driving reels (only two jig sets, one waltz, and one set of marches) including nineteen original tunes by either John or Megan. These are presented with simplicity overall. The arrangements are the same straight ahead sounds you might hear them play at a dance, with just enough swinging angularity to make this an interesting listen. Megan's fiddle can chomp and growl through her favorite notey tunes, while John's piano playing and Charley's percussion combine into some interesting vamps. They play with a strong attack on the downbeats and the relentless driving energy of 120 beats per minute.

For those who would like to make these tunes "their own" by learning them for play at dances or regional music jams, the Contranella web site includes a Wobus tune book. Music is available in JPG, ABC, and MIDI formats. The Contranella CD is available at Ludgate's Farm Market and through the band at [www.contranella.com].

More info about Contranella
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