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Wing Span: Contemporary Danish Accordion Music and Classical Works
CD 1
Vagn HOLMBOE (1909-1996)
Sonata no. 2 “Burlésco", op. 179a (1989) [10:45]
Mogens CHRISTENSEN (b. 1955)
Couronne (2005) [9:54]
Louis AGUIRRE (b. 1965)
Yemayá (2008) [15:55]
Hans ABRAHAMSEN (b. 1952)
Canzone (1977-78) [6:49]
Hanne ØRVAD (b. 1945)
Vingefang (Wing Span) (1997) [11:44]
Erik HØJSGAARD (b. 1954)
Épreuve (1993/96) [6:49]
CD 2
Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)
Chromatic Fantasy and Fugue, BWV 903 [11:35]
French Ouverture, BWV 831 [27:09]
César FRANCK (1822-1890)
Prélude, Fugue et Variation, op. 18 [9:46]
Pastorale, op. 19 [9:10]
Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953)
Toccata, op. 11 [5:05]
Adam Ørvad (classical accordion)
rec. December 2009-September 2011
DANACORD DACOCD718 [65:00 + 63:07]

Classical accordion virtuoso Adam Ørvad presents a twofer here with a dual purpose; firstly, he preaches the gospel of contemporary Danish classical accordion writing and second, he presents a series of arrangements from the classics, to demonstrate the accordion’s suitability as an instrument to interpret even the greatest of music. How sympathetic you will be to the latter will perhaps depend on your toleration of the accordion’s sonority but my experience here has been wholly positive.
I always enjoy hearing accordion players in the underground. The sound travels well and it’s evocative. Doubtless it’s twice as evocative in the Metro. It would however be a brave accordionist who sought loose change with this selection of Danish music. Vagn Holmboe’s Sonata No.2 Burlésco is a magically colourful work dating from 1989 written with two Intermezzos. The longest movement, though, is the quietly introspective Andante. The finale has baroque elements. The Sonata shows what a great composer can fashion for the accordion. Mogens Christensen’s Couronne is a slow, mysterious, almost pellucid piece that evolves over ten minutes with great assurance: he has confidence in his quietude and the means to sustain it. It’s suggested that Louis Aguirre’s Yemayá exhibits ‘barbaric and extreme force’. I’d suggest instead extremes of uneasily terse and jaggedly dramatic outbursts. At 16 minutes it slightly outstays its welcome.
Højsgaard’s Épreuve is a very accessible and entertaining piece. In Hans Abrahamsen’s Canzone, Ørvad evokes a chamber organ sonority and the spirit of the Baroque is subtly updated. The title piece is Wing Span by Hanne Ørvad and its multi-coloured textures and vocalised sensibility are richly apparent. It reminds us that the classical accordion is a well respected instrument in Denmark and that since the pioneering figure of Mogens Ellegaard a huge amount has been written to furnish the world’s accordionists with a valuable repertory.
The transcriptions show how viably the accordion can inhabit the classical repertory. I enjoyed these technically accomplished and dextrously played performances very much, whether Bach or Franck — I wasn’t expecting Prokofiev’s Toccata, that’s for sure, but I’m glad we have it in so brilliantly and rhythmically taut a performance as this. The soloist’s legerdemain and skill for sonority can be gauged in Franck’s Prélude, Fugue et Variation where in the fugal passages he evokes the organ. And to take on not only Bach’s Chromatic Fantasy and Fugue but also the French Ouverture, BWV 831 shows how avidly the contemporary accordionist casts his net. These transcriptions are all Ørvad’s work, and are truly sonorous and musically elevated examples of the accordionist’s art.
Anyone with an interest in the accordion will find a huge amount to stimulate in these excellently engineered, vibrantly played performances.
Jonathan Woolf