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.
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 website here
- 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 it is.
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 for
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
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 for life-support.
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.
Worthy of consideration by anyone interested in adventurous accordion music
but playing time is an issue.