Norwegian Safari Håkon BERGE(b.1954)
Girlander, for accordion [9:21] Antonio BIBALO(1922-2008)
Accordion Sonata, Quasi una Fantasia [11:50] Wolfgang PLAGGE(b.1960)
Fractals, for accordion, op.142 [6:08] Erlend SKOMSVOLL(b.1969)
Piece for accordion [5:58] Terje BJØRKLUND(b.1945)
Meditatio, for accordion and violin [7:15] Sigmund LILLEBJERKA(b.1931)
Dazzle Dance, for accordion [3:12]
Øivind Farmen (accordion)
Elise Båtnes (violin)
rec. Farmen Studio; Inger Helgesen Stuidproduksjon (Meditatio).
No dates given. DDD
AURORA ACD 5064 [43:45]
A safari is an overland journey undertaken by hunters or tourists
- quite how six works for accordion which "explore the
ambiguous territory of timbral similarities and the relationship
between classical structure and informal styles", all written
by contemporary Norwegian composers, come into it is anyone's
guess - there is no explanation in the booklet notes!
Aurora is the label of the Norwegian Society of Composers, which
laudably "works towards creating opportunities for the
dissemination of contemporary music and for increasing public
awareness of this art form." So far the label has published
nearly 150 CDs.
This latest release opens with Håkon Berge's imaginative
Girlander ('Garland'), a work requiring considerable dexterity
and stamina. It begins with almost rodent-like scurryings, squeakings
and scratchings, and remains primarily in the higher registers
throughout, even in the more reflective middle section.
Antonio Bibalo's Sonata, Quasi una Fantasia, composed
in 1977,is the most substantial piece in the programme,
and the booklet describes it as the "focal point, the heart
of the recording perhaps." Though Bibalo did not write
much chamber music, this was not his only piece for accordion
- in 1988 he wrote Two Nocturnes. This is a complex, often introspective
work and not easy-going, by any means, but still tonal and,
with perseverance, approachable and ultimately rewarding.
Fractals is probably a fairly common title for music composed
in the 21st and late 20th century, given the modernist fascination
and post-modernist obsession with ostinatos. Wolfgang Plagge's
work was a test-piece in an international accordion competition
- in fact, the score can be downloaded for free from the associated
- and certainly requires considerable technique. The notes describe
this as a "dialogue between pedal notes and light echo
effects", but that makes it sound less interesting than
Hyperbole best describes the claim in the booklet notes that
"the name Erlend Skomsvoll was on everybody's lips in 2000
when the Norwegian pianist arranged a selection of songs by
Chick Corea for the Molde International Jazz Festival."
Nevertheless, Skomsvoll’s Stykke ('Piece') is not without merit,
as it pulses like the heart of a runner who periodically pauses
Terje Bjørklund's simple Meditatio is probably the most immediately
appealing and also the most beautiful work on this CD. According
to the notes, Meditatio is "in jazz terrain", with
a "lyrical, almost film music-like atmosphere about the
music." The only part of that frankly half-baked description
which is accurate is the "lyrical". This is an intimate,
gorgeous, evocative, folk-like work, with the violin colour
both complementing and augmenting the accordion.
Finally, though neither dazzling nor dancy, Sigmund Lillebjerka's
Dazzle Dance is an impish little piece which includes a brief
burst of pure percussion - button clicking. The booklet describes
Lillebjerka as an organist, but this seems to be a mistake -
he is primarily a composer of orchestral and chamber music,
and Dazzle Dance is his sole work for accordion.
Øivind Farmen, pictured incidentally in brooding pose in the
CD booklet, performs the often quite demanding music on this
disc very well. Though his biographical notes are adequate,
it would have been nice to have had some information about the
magnificent-sounding instrument he plays.
The sound quality is outstanding - though the booklet does admit
to both mixing and mastering.
The CD case is a cardboard one which looks and feels nice when
new - lovely photos of Norwegian mountains and lochs - but which
will inevitably deteriorate with use and age; for one thing,
the booklet is housed in a slot which will eventually need Sellotape
In sum, this disc is worthy of genuine consideration by anyone
interested in adventurous accordion music, although at a rather
parsimonious 44 minutes in length, digital download, the format
in which it was originally released in November 2010, is much
the better buy.
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