Wolfgang Dimetrik

Haydn: Sonaten

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Austrian accordionist Wolfgang Dimetrik blandly devotes most of the booklet for this disc (several authors contributed to the notes, in German and English) to Haydn and his keyboard music, noting merely that playing Haydn on the accordion "seems less daring than dyed-in-the-wool purists might believe" and referring to the various modern classical composers who have written for the accordion. This is all misdirection of a sort. Dimetrik's recording is daring indeed, and one need not be a purist to be constantly surprised by it. The reason is that this isn't simply a transcription of four Haydn keyboard sonatas for accordion, nor even an arrangement, a word that can cover a large number of treatments. It's a wholesale reinterpretation of the music through the use of an instrument that can't, by its very construction, render the music as written. The accompaniments emerge in a heavily pared-down condition, and the right hand seems to float above it unaccompanied. Within the right hand itself, with structural percussive attack made impossible, a whole new set of contrasts develops. Common passagework has an odd, skittery feeling, and the slow-movement melodies have a uniquely evanescent quality. Dimetrik discusses only classical accordion music in his note, but in the slow movements especially he seems to be aware of the instrument's uses in cafe settings. The collective effect is extraordinarily strange; it's clearly not for everybody, but it's superlatively musical, and moreover this is the sort of project for which the conceiver deserves credit for sheer originality. Truly mind-boggling, for better or for worse.

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