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The Virtuoso Accordion - Sciarrino, Etc / Mikko Luoma

Release Date: 05/08/2007 
Label:  Bridge   Catalog #: 9221   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Sampo HaapamäkiJukka TiensuuSalvatore SciarrinoGerard Grisey,   ... 
Performer:  Mikko Luoma
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 6 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

VIRTUOSO ACCORDION Mikko Luoma (acc) BRIDGE 9221 (65:38)

HAAPAMÄKI Power. TIENSUU Aufschwung. Zolo. ZUBITSKY Carpathian Suite. SCIARRINO Vagabonde blu. GRISEY Passacaille. LINDBERG Read more class="ARIAL12bi">Jeux d’anches.

The Japanese accordionist Mie Miki has done much to further the cause of contemporary music for the her instrument. Her recordings on BIS have been thought-provoking in the extreme. Now two discs are released almost simultaneously: the present one under consideration, and a fascinating Winter & Winter issue called “Chanson discrete” (910124), a mix of Froberger, Berio, Hosokawa, and Sciarrino (in fact the same Sciarrino as is heard here).

Finnish accordionist Mikko Luoma is a clear virtuoso who revels in the challenges he sets himself. He kicks off with a nine-minute work by his compatriot Sampo Haapamäki (born 1979). Power dates from 2001 and is a dizzying whirligig, the perfect opener. There is much imagination used here in terms of differentiation of registers and tone, so that the instrument’s high register takes on a glassy, otherworldly feel. There are passages near the close of the work that play with time, opening it out to contrast with the more compacted rapid-fire sections.

Jukka Tiensuu’s Aufschwung (“Upswing”) of 1977 was part of the accordion renaissance in Finland. It is an uncompromising work that nevertheless does not set out to shock. Much of what we hear is ruminative in nature, although when they occur, contrasts are abrupt.

The sudden near-consonances that open Vladimir Zubitsky’s Carpathian Suite (1974) come as something of a shock. Inspired not only by the music of Ukrainian Carpathia, but also by the possibilities of the composer’s own instrument, the bayan, it is a colorful and energetic work in four movements. Luoma projects much of the dance energy at the heart of the work, while also preserving the nostalgia that folk melodies so often contain. The composer’s stated intention is to conjure the sound of West Ukrainian folk instruments such as tsimbal, trembits, naj, and telynkas through the medium of the accordion. The whole work is a joy, precisely because one can hear two things concurrently: the vibrant nature of the generating folklore and Zubitsky’s delighted exploration thereof.

Sciarrino’s Vagabonde blu is a characteristically quiet work that requires much concentration on the part of the listener (a concentration that is repaid many times over). Luoma is absolutely on the piece’s wavelength, and it is a tribute to the recording that not only is background silence maintained but that the quiet notes hover just on the boundaries of audibility. Magnificent music and—although not the most difficult piece technically in terms of numbers of notes—magnificent playing too.

Like Sciarrino’s, the music of Grisey (1946–1998) should need little introduction. His piece, Passacaille, was written as part of the entrance examination to Messiaen’s composition class at the Paris Conservatory (he also studied with Dutilleux). Luoma describes the Passacaille as a “little Alban Bergish composition,” and it is easy to see, harmonically at least, what he means. Delicate is the word that springs to mind, or fragile, even. Finnish composer Magnus Lindberg studied with Grisey, so therein lies the link between these two pieces. Lindberg’s title refers to organ terminology, specifically a group of organ registers with lingual pipes. He “imagined an orchestra of wind instruments using the principle of sound generation.” Despite the implication here of large forces, a significant part of this work spins delicate traceries in the air.

Finally, the second Tiensuu piece on the disc, Zolo , of 2002. Arguably the most virtuosic work on the album, its uncompromising manner and dramatic excitement seem to sum up the ethos of the entire offering.

The booklet notes (by Luoma) present the first two pieces heard in reverse order, as Luoma tries to accord Tiensuu his rightful place in the history of accordion repertoire and performance. This is potentially a trifle confusing, but is not a real problem. For the rest, the notes act as a helpful navigation tool in this unfamiliar territory.

Further information on the Finnish composers featured here can be found at that excellent resource, the Finnish Music Information Center (www.fimic.fi/).

FANFARE: Colin Clarke
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Works on This Recording

Power by Sampo Haapamäki
Performer:  Mikko Luoma (Accordion)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1979; Finland 
Length: 9 Minutes 6 Secs. 
Aufschwung, Op. 20c by Jukka Tiensuu
Performer:  Mikko Luoma (Accordion)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1977; Finland 
Length: 8 Minutes 7 Secs. 
Zolo by Jukka Tiensuu
Performer:  Mikko Luoma (Accordion)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 2002; Finland 
Length: 8 Minutes 37 Secs. 
Vagabonde blu by Salvatore Sciarrino
Performer:  Mikko Luoma (Accordion)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: Italy 
Length: 11 Minutes 48 Secs. 
Notes: Composition written: Italy (1997 - 1998). 
Passacaille by Gerard Grisey
Performer:  Mikko Luoma (Accordion)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1967; France 
Length: 5 Minutes 13 Secs. 
Carpathian Suite: 1st movement, Andante severo, molto imperioso by Vladimir Zubitsky
Performer:  Mikko Luoma (Accordion)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1974; USSR 
Length: 3 Minutes 57 Secs. 
Carpathian Suite: 2nd movement, Vivacissimo, molto preciso by Vladimir Zubitsky
Performer:  Mikko Luoma (Accordion)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1974; USSR 
Length: 3 Minutes 24 Secs. 
Carpathian Suite: 3rd movement, Moderato assai, quasi adagio by Vladimir Zubitsky
Performer:  Mikko Luoma (Accordion)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1974; USSR 
Length: 3 Minutes 14 Secs. 
Carpathian Suite: 4th movement, Festivo, a piacere by Vladimir Zubitsky
Performer:  Mikko Luoma (Accordion)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1974; USSR 
Length: 3 Minutes 24 Secs. 
Jeux d'anches by Magnus Lindberg
Performer:  Mikko Luoma (Accordion)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1990-1991; Finland 
Length: 8 Minutes 44 Secs. 

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