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CD Review: Friedrich Lips
Friedrich Lips: bayan
Mark Pekarski: percussion
Swjatoslaw Lips: piano
Vladimir Toncha: cello


Sergei Berinsky: Cinema
Valeri Kobekin: Holiday for Two
Tatiana Sergejeva: Jasmin
Astor Piazzolla: Tango Apasionado
Igor Stravinsky: Tango
Alexander Shurbin: Sonata #2 "Nostalgia"
Alexander Shurbin: Sonata #3 "Walking through Neskutschni Sad"

total time: 56:38
released: 2001
review date: Dec 2001

label:LIPS CD
Order from: The Classical Free-Reed, Inc. Online Gift Store

Review by Steve Mobia

Though you may think an album titled Cinema would feature movie themes or music used in films, you'd be wrong. This latest Friedrich Lips CD evokes often rapidly changing moods and styles and it's this notion of surprise and contrast that the liner notes attribute to cinema. The material on the recording was all written by late 20th century composers and features superb often virtuosic playing on the Russian Bayan by one of our greatest living accordionists. On the whole, it's a lighter more entertaining album than some of Lips' previous offerings. The 'grab bag' often humorous nature of this recording may call to mind someone like Guy Klucevsek than the more typically serious Lips.

Cinema is also the title of the first track on the album which was written by a Lips favorite, Sergei Berinsky. The mixture of lovely languid chords and propulsive rhythms make this a memorable piece which includes one honest-to-goodness movie theme: a snatch of Nino Rota's gallop from Fellini's 8 1/2. Lips even chants the syllables: "Cin-e-ma" followed by sly sinister laughter. The transmutation of the lyrical opening theme is well handled in Berinsky's fertile imagination without ever becoming overtly sentimental.

Valeri Kobekin's Holiday for Two, is a giddy unfolding of a folk-like melody with short quick motives added to the first and basic one. Percussionist Mark Pekarski accompanies with successive hand claps, glockenspiel, kettledrums, tom toms, cymbals, vibes and yowling vocals. Gradually the festivities subside into the faint distance.

Energetic piano highlights Tatiana Sergejeva's Jasmin. An accomplished pianist and organist, this is her first excursion into the accordion world. Latin rhythms and tango harmonies dominate this absolutely wild ride of a piece, which is full of dramatic tempo changes and wide dynamic swings. It is dedicated to father and son — Friedrich and Svjatoslav Lips.

A nice rendition of Piazzolla's brief Tango Apasionado with bayan, piano, and strings is apparently from a recording session made in Japan for a CD devoted to the Argentine bandoneonist.

Several accordion renditions of Igor Stravinsky's Tango for solo piano have been recorded by other players. In addition, this arrangement by Svjatoslav Lips adds piano and cello and is presented with much rubato and passion making this one the most emotionally engaging (though perhaps less authentically Stravinskian).

The two final works by Alexander Shurbin are eclectic to say the least— ricocheting from neoromantic virtuoso passages, to tango, to barrel organ carnival music. Though consistently entertaining and a good showcase for Mr. Lips' showmanship and technique, these pieces lack structural integrity and come off more like postmodern pastiche than anything; particularly the last Sonata #3. They were recorded live at the Academy of Music and Theater of Hannover in 1982 with a very responsive audience.

The recording of the other works is high quality with Lips' usual preference for deep reverb which adds pipe organ power to the already impressive tones from his Pigini instrument.

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