15 May 2012
In classical recordings, it is generally the music that draws purchasers – but by no means always. Sometimes it is the chance to hear a specific performer’s virtuosity, or to hear high-quality playing of an unfamiliar instrument, that is the major attraction. For most listeners outside Denmark and other countries with a strong accordion tradition, the interest in a Dacapo SACD featuring Bjarke Mogensen will likely be more in the instrument he plays than in the specific works in which he plays it. The accordion generally has a less-than-stellar reputation in the musical world, and certainly is not a primary instrument of choice in classical compositions in most countries. But the four 20th- and 21st-century works played by Mogensen, if unlikely to change the general opinion of accordion music, at least show how it can be skillfully incorporated into traditional forms and can become far more emotionally expressive than it is usually considered to be. Two of the pieces here, Anders Koppel’s Concerto Piccolo (2009) and Martin Lohse’s In Liquid… (2008/2010), were specifically written for Mogensen, and it is easy to see why. He seems able to make the accordion into something it does not naturally appear to be: an instrument of considerable emotional range, tonal impact and sonic beauty. Both Koppel and Lohse demand accordion playing that is not only virtuosic but also refined and emotive, and Mogensen delivers it with seeming effortlessness throughout both pieces. He brings elegance and even charm to the two earlier works here as well: Per Norgård’s Recall (1968/1977) and Ole Schmidt’s Symphonic Fantasy and Allegro (1958), the latter being particularly interesting because it is a wholly traditional sort of display piece, written for an instrument that would not seem to be well-suited to the demands of such a work. In Mogensen’s hands, though, the accordion is not to be trifled with or taken lightly – it sounds as worthy of being studied and highlighted as other instruments.
This is an excerpt from the article 'Virtuosi in Focus', view full article on: http://transcentury.blogspot.com/2012/05/virtuosi-in-focus.html