S¿rensen, Schaathun, Lindberg, Lindborg & Ratkje

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4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Lindberg,Lindborg & Ratkje,Schaathun,Sørensen
LABELS: ECM
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Looking on Darkness
WORKS: Looking on Darkness; Jeux d’anches
PERFORMER: Frode Haltli (accordion); Vertavo Quartet
CATALOGUE NO: 472 187-2
The accordion has never – well, hardly ever – had it so good. But forget Piazzolla and Pohjonen, certainly banish thoughts of the tango: this debut solo disc from the Norwegian virtuoso Frode Haltli presents five challenging new works which explore the furthest sonic regions of the instrument.

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This is all high-latitude music, and the two most compelling pieces are by the Dane Bent Sørensen and the Finn Magnus Lindberg. Sørensen’s Looking on Darkness is inspired by Shakespeare’s Sonnet No. 27 and, in an icy toccata in the accordion’s highest register, it follows the journey of a sleeping mind in a work of characteristically refined imagination. Sørensen makes delicate and artful play with the instrument’s ability to ‘bend’ notes, to crescendo and decrescendo with sudden, sharp breaths, as figures zoom, close-focus and freeze. Lindberg’s Jeux d’anches (Games of Reeds) embodies the aural/visual puns of its title, playing with the passage of air through tiny, trilling figures in complex melodic and rhythmic patternings.

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You’ll need to pace yourself for the 24-minute Gagaku Variations at the heart of the disc. A trip to Japan inspired Maja Solveig Kjelstrup Ratkje to a work which fuses the energies and sonorities of the accordion and the string quartet to unpredictable and revelatory effect. Hilary Finch