It appears that exacting pitch is not really important in the grander scheme of things, for Gabriele Tranchina’s singing. Although it seems likely that if she really wanted to, this vocalist could nail the exacting pitch of the notes themselves with perfection, Tranchina eschews the exactitude of notation to scale impossible heights of emotion. In this respect she is like a storyteller who uses lyric passages to let tales of longing and other elusive emotions unfold with the songs she sings. As a vocalist Tranchina often coaxes her voice to stretch beyond its contralto comfort zone. This is no mean feat as there appears to be no strain at all. On the contrary, Tranchina never fails to surprise with the manner in which she is able to hold onto notes higher than her normal vocal range.
Another important feature of Gabriele Tranchina’s singing is that she is able to sing with stylish facility in French, Portuguese, Spanish and English as well as in her native German. On A Song of Love’s Color Tranchina even manages to navigate through a wonderful Sanskrit chant, “Asato Maa (Sat Chit Ananda).” This, of course, has everything to do with her Germanic roots—Sanskrit and German having the same linguistic origins. Nevertheless, the haunting rendition is memorable. Her version of “Today,” seemingly written almost exclusively in a diatonic mode is also quite exquisite as the song seems perfect for her method of intonation. And this is probably Gabriele Tranchina’s main vocal strength.
Through the velvety softness of her voice, Tranchina delivers lyrics with a deep sensitivity for the feeling of their underlying emotions. The song, “Dué Niñ Bonito” is a perfect example. Here Tranchina displays emotion in equal measure whether she singing wordlessly or otherwise—in English or in another language. The dramaturge of the music is all in the manner of delivery. On “Voz” she turns wordless vocalizing into a fine art and in addition, displays exquisite interplay her band mates, especially with bassist, Santi DeBriano. The Panamanian-born, New York-based musician shows why he is so much in demand as an accompanist by other instrumentalists.
In his foray with Tranchina, DeBriano displays a wonderful sensitivity for the delicacy of the human voice as he goads the vocalist into realms of outstanding arabesques as well. The songs, “Solamente Pasiò” and “Siehst Du Mich” are two of the finest examples on this record. On the latter, DeBriano undertakes an arco con brio arabesque of his own as he plots a brooding course throughout the song, ending in a single note that he holds down to establish the elemental pain of the character in the German poem. And this makes DeBriano the other star of the record.
However, it is clear from Tranchina’s performance that she is a vocalist of the highest order. Her style is not conventional. She may not ever sing an aria, but when she interprets the narrative of a song and gets in to character she has few peers. Anything new from her will be a welcome addition to the literature of vocal music.
Tracks: Chante Comme Si Tu Mourir Demain; A Song of Love’s Color; Samba De Uma Nota So; Today; Sing a Song of Children; Inutil Pasagem; Asato Maa (Sat Chit Ananda); Dué Niñ Bonito; Voz; Solamente Pasiò Siehst Du Mich.
Personnel: Gabriele Tranchina: vocals, background vocals; Joe Vincent Tranchina: piano, background vocals; Santi DeBriano: bass; Renato Tomas: percussion, background vocals; Bobby Sanabria: drums, background vocals; Roberto Sanabria: background vocals.