Ligeti, Schnittke, Tiensuu, Gubaidulina & Kusjakov

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COMPOSERS: Gubaidulina & Kusjakov,Ligeti,Schnittke,Tiensuu
LABELS: Stradivarius Times Future
WORKS: Works by Ligeti, Schnittke, Tiensuu, Gubaidulina & Kusjakov
PERFORMER: Trio Solotarev; Francesco Dillon (cello)
The bayan, the flexible Russian cousin of the accordion, has lately become fairly well-known in the West, principally due to some astonishing players and the works, important by any standard, which Sofia Gubaidulina has written for it. Here the Trio Solotarev (three Italian bayan players, despite the name) displays the instrument’s aptitude for all kinds of unexpected virtuosity, both in original works (Gubaidulina’s Et exspecto Sonata and the bayan/cello duo In croce, both of them utterances of blazing intensity) and, unexpectedly, transcription. Schnittke’s quodlibet Hommage to Stravinsky, Prokofiev and Shostakovich was originally written for piano six-hands and gains pungency when transferred to three bayans. The 1975 Sonata by Anatoli Kusjakov (b1945), himself one of the leading bayan virtuosi in Russia, was apparently so daunting for a single player that the Trio had to request a new version for three instruments. But perhaps the most astonishing things here are the three Ligeti piano études recast for bayan trio. One can see that their shifting planes of furious ostinati and endless chromatic staircases are easier for three hands than two, but the sheer effectiveness of the changed sonority, the near-apocalyptic wildness of the result, could hardly be anticipated. If these arrangements are perhaps curiosities, their novelty value is unlikely to pall quickly. In many ways a weirdly stimulating disc. Calum MacDonald