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My Classical Accordion
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Piano Sonata in D major, KV 576 (1789) [13:52]
Jürgen GANZER (b. 1950)
Phantasie 84 (1984) [7:34]
Domenico SCARLATTI (1685-1757)
Sonata in F minor, K 69 [5:48]
Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)
Fantasia in C minor, BWV 906 [4:27]
Morten GAATHAUG (b. 1955)
Den som fikk hřre en latterugle synge…Op 98 (2015) [9:19]
Ronny KJŘSEN (b. 1972)
Brain Squeeze (2011) [4:57]
Řivind FARMEN (b. 1972)
Hannahs lykkelige dag (2011) [3:13]
Řivind Farmen (accordion)
rec. April-May 2020, Farmen Musikkopplevelser, Selbu
FARMEN FMO121 [49:49]

Řivind Farmen is one of Norway’s leading accordionists, but it’s been eleven years since his last solo album. That realisation was a large part of the reason for this disc, a selection of pieces from his current repertoire, hence the disc title ‘My Classical Accordion’. As the press release which came with the disc notes, the repertoire ranges from Baroque via the Classical period to contemporary compositions for the instrument, one by Farmen himself. Most of the pieces are heard in world premičre versions for the solo accordion.

Like a number of accordionists, he is at home in both the classical and folkloric mediums. This disc, though, is predicated strongly on the former and there are several works that show how dedicated Farmen is in both the expansion of the accordion’s reportorial range and in his keenness to propagate it to the widest number of people. Thus, his Mozart Sonata is a case in point, an opportunity for him to clothe it in new colours and voicings, to show how the instrument’s articulation and – sometimes - scrunchy sonorities can be brought to bear on a canonic work of this kind. The results are both plausible and delightful. So too in the Scarlatti Sonata which opens in strikingly organ-like fashion, but which goes on to explore the work’s polyphonic basis with great clarity and purpose; there’s much refinement and elegance in a performance as articulate as this one. That applies to the Bach Fantasia, which has a quizzical, even comic element to it here.

Farmen has never shied away from contemporary developments in composition for the accordion. Jürgen Ganzer’s Phantasie 84 is a specific example, now much recorded but still – nearly forty years after it first appeared – an embodiment of the potential for sonic variety and expressive breadth in a work for the instrument. Plangent, resonant, with moments of overlapping ‘electronica’ it’s a still-fascinating example and, notwithstanding those other recordings, a more than welcome presence in Farmen’s recital disc. Ronny Kjřsen’s Brain Squeeze, which Farmen premičred, encodes elements of bagpiping and Hardanger fiddle drone in a folkloric-influenced work high on drama. Morten Gaathaug, by contrast, prefers in his piece an evocation of owls which carries an ecological message and rebuke, but does so through musical incident and evocative, precise colour and in a piece that obeys the niceties of contrast between tempo and mood. Once again Farmen premičred it. The disc ends with his own sweet lullaby-like tribute to his daughter, originally written for violin and accordion but here recast for the solo accordion.

It makes for an easeful, warm coda to this varied and finely recorded recital.

Jonathan Woolf

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