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Sulkan TSINTSADZE (1925-1992)
Chonguri (2005) [1:23]
Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)
(arr. Thomas Demenga)

Dal alte Jahr vergangen ist [2:27]
Herr Gott, nun scleuss; den Himmel auf [1:53]
Ich ruf’ zu Dir, Herr Jesu Christ [3:36]
Meine Seele erhebet den Herrn [2:05]
Gaspar CASSADÓ (1897-1966)

Danse du diable vert [3:20]
Frédéric CHOPIN (1810-1849)

Nocturne in c-sharp minor Op. Post.(arr. Gregor Piatigorsky) [4:10]
Nocturne in E-flat Op 9 No. 2 (arr. Thomas Demenga) [5:04]
Gabriel FAURÉ (1845-1924)

Romance [3:56]
Aprés un rêve (arr. Pablo Casals) [3:00]
Berceuse (arr. Thomas Demenga) [3:22]
Anton WEBERN (1883-1945)

Drei kleine Stücke [2:20]
Zwei Stücke [4:53]
Franz LISZT (1811-1886)

La lugubre gondola [7:39]
Darius MILHAUD (1892-1974)

Vocalise-étude pour voix élevées [1:02]
Thomas DEMENGA (b. 1954)

New York Honk [2:14]
Thomas Demenga (cello)
Thomas Larcher (piano)
Teodoro Anzellotti (accordion)
rec. August 2004, Clara Wieck Auditorium, Sandhausen bei Heidelberg, Germany
ECM NEW SERIES ECM 1914 [56:53]



Chonguri is a collection of recordings that, in the listening, may well surprise some. We have here a series of works by composers familiar and unfamiliar, with the familiar in arrangements for the occasionally astonishing combination of accordion, piano and cello. The range of the works covers quite a large tract of musical terrain, from the Baroque to the Serialists to a freshly-penned piece by the cellist himself.

The programme starts with a short piece by the Georgian composer Sulkhan Tsintsadze, who is also a cellist. The piece, for solo cello, is named after and approximates, over its brief minute-and-change time-span, a Georgian traditional instrument, which is akin to a lute with a longer neck.. It’s a wonderful showpiece for chordal pizzicato, at times calling to mind a nylon-stringed, strummed Nick Drake song, and at others it is exotically spiced with folk-like colour. The piece leads almost effortlessly into the first of the Bach transcriptions. Das alte Jahr vergangen ist, as with so much of Bach’s music, shows itself to be most flexible to adaptation to different instrumentation - here for accordion and cello - with the accordion quite convincingly playing the role of a chamber organ. The arrangement, by Thomas Demenga, is sensitively done, with the cello taking the main melodic line, trading roles with the accordion for the following Bach piece, Herr Gott, nun schleuss’ den Himmel auf.

We shift abruptly to the more modern soundworld of Catalonian cellist-composer Gaspar Cassadó’s Danse du diable vert, whose sound is very much in the style of the French composers of the 1930s, or that of Polish Composer Alexander Tansman, whose various works have been reviewed here recently. The piece, scored for piano and cello, is certainly a wonderful encore, with rapid, fluid runs and moments of luxurious enjoyment. Here, the green fairy is no sinister spirit; we have a frenetic, driven dance of unbridled delight, which may have listeners combing for other recordings of works by this relative unknown.

On more familiar ground, there are two arranged nocturnes of Chopin, arranged for piano and cello. the first is Piatigorsky’s arrangement of the Op. posth. Nocturne in c-sharp minor, which comes across here as a languid beauty. The other, the Op. 9 Nocturne in E-flat is heard in Demenga’s own arrangement for piano and cello. More demure and stripped back than the orchestral arrangement that others may be familiar with, this piano-and-cello version keeps a better handle on the wistful innocence of the piece. The last of the Bach pieces is arranged by Demenga for cello and accordion, again with quite enjoyable results. The cello starts the material and hands it over to the accordion.

Overall, the progression of pieces is pleasant and sensitively-done, and the sound quality is all one could hope for and expect with ECM.

David Blomenberg


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