Richard Galliano

Richard Galliano: Bach

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French accordionist and bandoneon player Richard Galliano has spent much of his career demonstrating that his instruments can be employed not only in the service of folk music, but also to play jazz. His long tenure on Dreyfus Records was spent in that endeavor, but with Deutsche Grammophon, the venerable classical label, he naturally takes a different tack, here adapting himself to the demands of Johann Sebastian Bach. The substitution of accordion for keyboard instruments, notably in the three-part Concerto for Harpsichord, Strings, and Continuo No. 5 in F Minor, BWV 1056 and Contrepoint 1 -- L'Art de la Fugue en Ré Majeur, BWV 1080, is a natural, yet Galliano does not stop there. He also replaces the violin in the three-part Violin Concerto No. 1 in A Minor, BWV 1041 and the Concerto for Violin, Oboe, and Strings in D Minor, BWV 1060; the cello in the "Prélude" movement of the Suite for Cello Solo No. 1 in G, BWV 1007; and the flute in the "Allemande" section of the Partita for Solo Flute in A Minor, BWV 1013. These pieces written for strings and a reed require a fluidity of playing that Galliano succeeds in reproducing on his keys. And there are gains in his choice of instrument, notably in the slow "Largo" movement of the harpsichord concerto, since the accordion's notes have a longer decay than those for the harpsichord, giving greater resonance to the music. Galliano is ably accompanied by a chamber orchestra consisting of two violins (Jean-Marc Phillips-Varjabédian and Sébastien Surel), viola (Jean-Marc Apap), cello (Raphaël Pidoux), and bass (Stéphane Logerot). But they only provide support, and often they drop out entirely as Galliano re-creates the majesty of Bach's music on his accordion, proving its worth as a formal instrument, just as he has previously as a jazz axe.

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