Kagel: Solo works for accordion & piano

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LABELS: Winter & Winter
WORKS: Solo works for accordion & piano
PERFORMER: Teodoro Anzellotti (accordion); Luk Vaes (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 910 035-2
Mauricio Kagel, Argentine-born but Cologne-based, is the licensed jester of the European avant-garde, his music inextricably intertwined with theatre, humour, and the world of ideas. Some of the jokes in the accordion pieces from the radio composition Rrrrrrr… are perhaps funnier in conception than execution. But I laughed at MM 51, in which the piano’s clichés of horror-film soundtracks are accompanied by a steadily ticking metronome – until the metronome departs from regularity, prompting the pianist to increasingly demonic cackles. Another piano piece, Passé composé, is based on stylistic echoes of Debussy, Ravel and others, and ends with a tape recording of part of itself: like much other Kagel, it seems not to have enough substance for its considerable length. As for Kagel’s apparently abstract music, the early Metapièce is a routine assembly of avant- garde gestures. But the 1995 À deux mains is an effective little competition test-piece; and the 1993 Episoden, Figuren sounds beautifully written for the accordion, and sustains interest throughout its 13-14 minutes. With the composer as producer, the performances are no doubt authoritative; the recordings are excellent; the presentation is handsome. Recommended to admirers of Kagel’s music, and of course to accordion enthusiasts; others might do better to start with some of the larger-scale pieces. Anthony Burton