Shirunov and Nadia Guseva
must place this CD in your collection, that is, if you wish to
have access to some absolutely terrific accordion performances
by two young musicians from St. Petersburg, Russia. Both players
have won innumerable solo awards in addition to their duo work.
You will readily understand why when you listen to this recording.
The CD jacket states: "They breathe as one and a duo becomes
a 'Solo for Two.'" You will not realize it is two players
because of the outstanding musicianship displayed throughout.
immediate reaction after listening to the very first piece on
the CD was one of total respect. Their performance of the very
difficult "Dieu parmi nous" which is No. 9 of Olivier
Messiaen's "La nativité du Seigneur (Nine Meditations
for Organ), written in 1935, will invite your awe.
It provides even more inspiration for the future and ever-expanding
possibilities of the accordion when played by true artists. Alone,
this one performance by these young musicians is worth the price
of the complete CD. However, there are other pieces just as outstanding
and equally exciting for the listener. Be sure to turn up the
volume and you will believe it is the organ of La Sainte Trinité
in Paris being played by the composer or by the famous organ virtuoso,
Jehan Alain, in many of his concerts.
is just a remarkable musical performance, one extremely demanding
of the performers in every way. It is difficult to write about
the performance without reference to the composer of the music,
his life and contributions to the history of music. One could
spend many hours studying the rhythms, based on ancient Indian
theory, as well as the compositional techniques employed throughout
by Messiaen who spent 11 years at the Paris Conservatoire, where
he studied composition with Dukas and organ with Dupré.
Yes, the composition "Dieu parmi nous" provides possibilities
for intense musical study other than the pure joy of listening,
which Shirunov and Guseva more than amply offer!
on to the other repertoire on the CD: I must admit my great admiration,
too, for the Polish composer Bogdan Precz (1960)-1996) who contributed
the popular "3-3-2" to this recording. How fortunate
the accordion repertoire is to have his compositions! The duo,
once again, gives an exciting and impeccable performance of this
great piece. Everything is there - the rhythmic accents, the driving
energy, and the dynamic excitement, and if you are one to admire
fine bellows action, you will recognize it throughout this piece.
American composer, George Gershwin (1898-1937), gave us so much
repertoire which has become well-known throughout the world. Many
of them have been arranged or transcribed for other instruments
such as unpretentious "Three Preludes for Piano" (1926)
which were once arranged by the famous violinist Jascha Heifetz
for the violin. It is this transcription upon which this performance
by Shirunov and Guseva is based. The preludes are in a jazz idiom,
but reveal the composer's interest in presenting this material
in a recognizable classical form. This is no "swing"
interpretation; it is the one of jazz and blues during the 1920's
in which the pieces were written. (By the way, for those of you
interested in such anecdotes: Heifetz had an accordion on which
he learned to play a few pieces. The left hand, however, was outfitted
with a piano keyboard. After the death of Heifetz, it was given
to his very good friend, the well-known and most recorded accordionist
and conductor in Hollywood, Carl Fortina, where it remains today.)
Astier (1923-1994) provided much repertoire for accordionists
to develop their technical dexterity. This duo performance of
"La Tempête" will more than prove why it is so
popular; it is a fitting manner in which to close the CD.
piece on the CD offers much to admire. The chosen registration
is beautiful. For example, the piccolo reed in the Shalaev piece
is absolutely exquisite. There are numerous similar instances
throughout the recording where not only the selection of registers
but, also, the manners in which they are employed tell us so much
about these remarkably talented performers. The depth of interpretation
is so readily shown throughout. Even in the bravura passages there
is no strain. The dynamic ranges, whether the most delicate pianissimo
or the grandest fortissimo, display careful attention.
Piazzolla (1921-1992) is represented by the poetic "Ave Maria"
and the arresting "Meditango" both of which exhibit
the requisite passion and zeal. "March," "Dance
of the Sugar-plum Fairy," and "Trepak," three dances
from the ballet suite "The Nutcracker, Op. 71" by Piotr
Tchaikovsky (1840-1893) are given superb performances. The "Trepak"
is especially thrilling, perhaps due to the unusual rapidity displayed.
Swans" by the contemporary Finnish composer, Petri Makkonen
(1967), is ravishing in its beauty and ethereal spirit. It is
one of the better compositions in the accordion repertoire of
for Two" is a recording of many different styles of repertoire
and one which provides a thoroughly enjoyable listening experience.
The musicians, Alexander Shirunov and Nadia Guseva, are most outstanding.
Reviewed by Joan Cochran Sommers, Nov. 25, 2008
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