One may be tempted to smile at the very idea of classical accordion duos, but this extraordinary CD is proof that it is possible to make great music with this misunderstood instrument. James Crabb and Geir Draugsvoll perform their own virtuosic arrangements of three challenging works, and their facility is almost as amazing as the quality of their renditions. To an extent, the classical accordion is like an organ, with a variety of stops at the performer's disposal. The available timbres also correspond rather closely to the woodwinds, brass, and percussion of the orchestra, and the dual manual instrument is much more flexible than the fixed-chord accordion. Stravinsky's 1947 version of Petrushka, with some necessary adaptation, fits well under the accordionists' hands. But the most surprising feature of this arrangement is its remarkable fidelity to the orchestral score, and the duo brings it to life with exceptional musicianship. Stravinsky's Tango, originally written for piano, also works well on the accordions, and the evocation of the bandoneon is wholly appropriate in this piece. Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition, also written for piano and masterfully orchestrated by Ravel, is as convincingly performed here as was Petrushka. The duo draws on both versions for their inspired arrangement.
AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson
|Petrushka, ballet (burlesque) in 4 scenes for orchestra (1947 version)|
|Pictures at an Exhibition (Kartinki s vïstavski), for piano|