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
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.