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CD Review: Ivano Battiston
Sofia Gubaidulina

CD Image

total time: 57:29
released: 1997
review date: August 2000

label: Warner Fonit (8573 81480-2)
Order from: Ivano Battiston

Ivano Battiston, accordion
Mario Brunello, violoncello
Orchestra d'Archi Italiana
Claudio Doni, director


  • Dmitri Shostakovich: String Quartet No. 8 in Cm, Op. 110 (1960)
  • Sofia Gubaidulina: Seven Last Words (1982)
Review by Henry Doktorski:

This Warner Fonit CD is very important. The majority of CDs which we review are self-produced by the performers. Of course this is not bad; it is imperative that accordionists promote themselves and their instrument (and to sell their CDs during their concerts) to better attract a following among classical music lovers. I self-produced by first two solo CDs.

But even more important, in my opinion, are recordings which are produced by major labels and marketed to mainstream classical music lovers. I believe these CDs will have a greater effect in educating the general public about the artistic and technical capabilities of the accordion. Only a minority of the CDs we have reviewed on The Classical Free-Reed, Inc. website fall into this category, and, for the most part, only the best performers are selected for this unique honor.

Ivano Battiston is such a qualified person; he is a Renaissance man, after my own heart. In addition to accordion, he studied choral music, choral conducting and bassoon, obtaining diplomas from the Rovigo and Padua Conservatories in Italy. In fact, he gave up his orchestral and chamber ensemble work as a bassoonist to fully devote his time to the accordion. *

Although he began playing accordion at a tender age and won several competitions—including first prize at the XXVIII World Accordion Trophy (1978) and a diploma with highest honors at the Conservatory of Castelfranco Veneto (1994)—he didn't dedicate himself full-time to the accordion until he met the great Italian master, Salvatore di Gesualdo in the 1980s. (We will review a CD by this pioneer classical accordionist in the near future.) Battiston presently teaches accordion at the "L. Cherubini" Music Conservatory in Florence.

The CD is in two parts: major works by Shostakovich and Gubaidulina—two very important Russian composers of the twentieth century. Not only is the CD program linked geographically, it is linked historically in the fact that Shostakovich (1906-1975) was the most significant person in the education of the younger Gubaidulina (b. 1931).

In addition, the two works are linked by overall mood: both works express the painful suffering of intense agony. Shostakovich's quartet was composed in 1960 for the film Five Days—Five Nights which concerned the last events of the second world war. Viewing the film, and visiting the concentration camps where millions of innocent persons were killed, had a profound effect on the composer, who dedicated his work to "the victims of fascism and war."

Gubaidulina's mystical work, Seven Last Words —commissioned by Friedrich Lips and Wladimir Toncha, the first performers of the work—refer to the seven last words (utterings) of Christ, as he suffered and died on the cross.

Gubaidulina's work is full of pain and sorrow, and Battiston and Brunello portray that sorrow in the rasping and wheezing of their instruments. Truly a magnificent and humbling work. It never ceases to bring a tear to my eye.

The CD booklet notes are written in Italian, English, French and German.

I cannot emphasize enough what an important composer is Sofia Gubaidulina. We have reviewed several recordings of her work and I invite you to read the following reviews of the following outstanding performers:

Oh, did I say the CD was recorded live? Pretty amazing, if you ask me. Very good control.

* Although some say I am also a Renaissance man, performing on accordion, piano and organ (indeed my full-time occupation is church organist and choirmaster), Battiston has given up many of his other activities (such as bassoon) to concentrate on accordion (and composition). I, on the other hand, play accordion infrequently, as here in the United States I can better support myself and my family by playing classical piano and pipe organ.

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