György LIGETI (1923-2006)
Musica ricercata VIII [1:08]
Musica ricercata I [2:44]
John DOWLAND (1563-1626)
Lachrimae Antiquae [4:25]
The King of Denmark’s Galliard [2:55]
Lachrimæ Verae [4:29]
M. Giles Hobie’s Galliard [1:40]
François COUPERIN (1668-1733)
Muséte de Choisi and Muséte de Taverni [5:19]
La Julliet [2:03]
John CAGE (1912-1992)
Chess Pieces (1944) [9:12]
Astor PIAZZOLLA (1921-1992)
Adiós Nonino [4:23]
Musica ricercata VII [4:01]
Musica ricercata IV [2:47]
Musica ricercata III [1:16]
Viviane Chassot (accordion)
Martin Mallaun (zither)
rec. 23-24 April 2016, “Zur Ratte”, Leipzig, Germany
GENUIN GEN16439 [56:34]
We all love a good novelty recording and this is first rate stuff, taking the music thus arranged into new and unusual places. Viviana Chassot and Martin Malraux met in 2013 at an opera production in 2013, and have been working ever since to create a repertoire for two instruments you would hardly associate with each other – on paper that is. As this release shows, the combination of accordion and zither has plenty to offer in all of the genres covered here and no doubt beyond.
Ligeti’s Musica ricercata has appeared in numerous guises and lends itself well to arrangement. The sound of the opening track, Musica ricercata VIII points out this music’s folk origins more sharply than I think I’ve ever heard before. The rippling softness of the zither accompanying the melody in the accordion works beautifully in Musica ricercata VII, and the famous virtuosity of Musica ricercata III is a superb close to the disc.
The melancholy of Joh Dowland’s Lachrimae Antiquae is another triumph, the zither taking on the character of a lute remarkably convincingly, the accordion becoming a reed portativo. The same goes for the gentle Galiard dance pieces, the lively movement in M. Giles Hobie’s Galiard providing an ideal foil for the sustained tragic mood of Lachrimae Verae. Ornamentation is a strong feature for the zither in these Dowland pieces, and with Couperin this becomes a significant element for both instruments. Taken from the Pièces de clavecin, there is a playful duet feel to both the Muséte and La Juliet.
John Cage’s Chess Pieces is a recently rediscovered ‘early’ work, the music creating enigmatic vignettes for each square – the abstraction in the music being in where each section leads the imagination rather than in any sense of impenetrability. Indeed, these miniatures are sparingly notated but firmly composed in a tonal idiom, and easily as approachable as the Ligeti pieces here. Astor Piazzolla is of course one of the most famous names in tango, and the three pieces taken here are amongst is best known works. Libertango is given an improvisatory opening in which the accordion ‘bends’ its tuning subtly but intriguingly, Piazzolla’s actual music then driven with spectacular energy. Tango is very much the accordion’s field, but the zither takes on a very effective guitar role here. Adiós Nonino is taken as a very fine accordion solo, while the zither becomes the whistling and sliding strings of a violin at the opening of Novitango.
Equally superbly recorded and performed, this is something of a surprise hit and deserves wide popularity. I hope that Duo Chassot/Mallaun go further and are able to score some original works as well as these admirable and highly entertaining arrangements.