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Reviewer: Joan Cochran Sommers
Title: Jon Faukstadt Accordion Chamber
Artist: Jon Faukstadt (accordion) with Assisting Artists
Supplied by: Artist
Review date: 21 March 2008

This is one of those CD recitals which one would love to experience in person just as it is heard on this compilation of various artists performing with the Norwegian accordionist, Jon Faukstad, on several occasions. Rarely does one have the opportunity to hear such a variety of instruments on a single concert; this CD gives us this chance. Chamber music, of course, is so intimate and requires truly fine cooperation between and among the performers; there is no room for hiding. And, on the recordings heard here, there is no need for it; these performances are just perfect in every way.

First of all, the performers are all very fine; second of all, the repertoire is so varied, interesting, and well-written in every instance. I can do nothing but praise every single presentation and I would urge you to buy this particular CD. If you are a devotee of chamber music, you will definitely appreciate it; if you are new to this particular area of accordion repertoire, you will not find any better way in which to be introduced to it. This recording has so many different instruments and styles it is a perfect chamber music recital. I am confident that many accordionists will also want to add some of this fine music to their repertoire after hearing it even once.

The first two pieces, "Two Wild Cherries" - poetry by Magli Elster and "Three-leaf Clover" - poetry by Inger Hagerup, both composed by Øistein Sommerfeldt for accordion and female voice, are extremely attractive. The vocalist, Helga Botn (soprano), is just exquisite! She has a lovely voice, fine musicianship and is perfectly suited to the music and the poetry. As in all the pieces on the CD, Jon Faukstad meets the demands of the music equally in every way. These two Sommerfeldt pieces are among my favorites on the CD! They are worthy suggestions for any vocal recital.

The third piece, "Partita" by Trygve Madsen, is for two accordions. In this recording Jon Faukstad and the world-famous Russian bayanist, Friedrich Lips, are the two collaborators. Both are more than equal to the task of playing the demanding score. Accordionists seeking duets of a substantial musical nature, yet attractive and interesting to the general public, would be wise to study this ambitious accordion duo score. There are four movements, each different and yet quite connected.

Next comes a selection for accordions and percussion by Olav Anton Thommessen: "A Chord? D'accord!" which, again, was performed exceedingly well by accordionists, Jon Faukstad and Tom Karlsrud, and percussionist Bjørn Rabben. There is no rest for any player; they must be at the top of their musical form to carry this off. "Endurance and precision" are both absolutely necessary for this piece. Even so, I wished for even more variety in the rhythms and the musical lines and, yes, a bit of mallet work, too. Perhaps I keep recalling the quite remarkable "Duell for Akkordeon und Schlagzeug" by Torbjörn Lundquist as the model of perfection for such compositions. Nonetheless, I found this piece well written and interesting and do not mean to be critical of performers or composition!

For those of you who love hearing the accordion played with other wind instruments, now you may have your treat in the following two compositions, both for clarinet and accordion. The first "Canzonetta" by Dag Schjelderup-Ebbe and the second "The Chase" by Håkon Berge provide a range of playing that is really first-class in both cases. "The Chase" is a particularly interesting selection with interesting, provocative and imaginative phrases tempting one's imagination and would seem to be an excellent source of music for a modern dance presentation. Both pieces showcase fine sensitive playing by the two performers, Jon Faukstad on accordion and Hans Christian Braein on clarinet, with careful attention to dynamic melding of sounds from the accordion and the clarinet. I must admit a preference and personal liking of the Berge piece, however, which I found truly excellent!

The final selection on the CD is a group of 5 pieces under the title of "A Summer Gone By" written by Sigmund Groven for accordion and violin. Each of the 5 pieces is so perfectly titled and you will like each of them immediately upon first hearing! This is truly a sentimental recollection of a beautiful summer experience. Each piece is a gem! The ethereal quality of "White Nights" is undeniable and "A Saturday Night" will make your feet itch with a desire to get up and dance. You will indeed elicit a smile or two in listening to this final piece on this totally outstanding CD of chamber music featuring the accordion. Both Jon Faukstad on accordion and Per Saemund Bjoerkum on violin are simply superb.

I recommend this CD very highly!

Jon Faukstad is professor and head of the accordion section at the Norwegian Academy of Music in Oslo. He has collaborated with many Norwegian composers and encouraged them to write for the accordion and is to be congratulated for his work in compiling these chamber pieces, an area of growing importance for all accordionists throughout the world. He graduated from the University of Oslo with a degree in musicology, political science and history and also studied with Mogens Ellegaard at the Royal Danish Conservatory of Music in Copenhagen. Professor Faukstad has performed a number of musical premieres and played the music on TV, in radio programs, as well as on various concert tours, both in Norway and abroad. He is also a famous folk musician and has played with some of the most outstanding fiddlers in Norway.

This new CD may be obtained through and the parts and scores are available as data files and printable from your PC or Mac. Contact:

CD Review Joan Cochran Sommers - 21 March, 2008