The Free-Reed Review
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CD Review: Friedrich Lips


Friedrich Lips, bayan


J. Daquin: The Cuckoo
R. Schumann: Traumerei
F. Schubert: Moment Musical in F minor
E. Grieg: The Lonely Wanderer
J. Strauss: Pizzicato Polka
G. Rossini/E. Derbenko: La Danza
G. Rossini/A. Dmitriew: Aria from Figaro
E. Arolas: La Cachila
A. Piazzolla: Contrabajeando
A. Piazzolla: Nonino
A. Piazzolla: Sentido Unico
E. Lecuona: La Comparsa
E. Lecuona: Malaguena
G. Schenderjow: Russian Dance
A. Chatschaturjan: Toccata
E. Derbenko: Little Suite

total time: 49:12
released: 1996

Label: Lips CDs
Order from: The Classical Free-Reed, Inc. Online Gift Store

Review by Henry Doktorski:

This CD by Friedrich Lips (whom some say is the greatest living classical bayanist) is a welcome change from his normally serious programs: it features short miniatures (the longest piece on the CD is only 4:40) which Lips performs as encores during his concerts.

I was amazed at the musicality of his transcriptions. Traumerei, for instance, by Robert Schumann was originally written for piano solo. It is a dreamy Romantic work which is perfectly suited to the instrument it was written for. I have always maintained that piano transcriptions do not work well on accordion, because on the piano, one can bring out the inner (or outer, for that matter) voices to emphasize the prevailing musical idea.

On the other hand, on the accordion, one does not have that option, since all voices on a particular manual, be it right-hand or left-hand, are dependent on the same air pressure from the bellows, therefore the volume of individual voices are the same. For example, I would never play some Chopin piano works on accordion; it sounds bland in comparison.

However, Lips' transcription of Schumann's Traumerei I believe is a masterpiece of subtlety; his rendition captured the Romantic flavor of the piece and reminded me of a nineteenth-century harmonium.

Other pieces stand out in my memory such as Rossini's Aria from Figaro, Chatschaturjan's Toccata, and Schenderjow's Russian Dance.

Unfortunately, I was not happy with Lecuona's Malaguena; I know that the Russian bayans have tremendously deep bass tones, but I thought the bass equalization during this piece was turned up unnaturally high. Lips' instrument sounds more like some sort of monstrous reed-organ rather than an accordion; the left hand sounded simply too heavy. This became especially obvious at the start of the next track (Shenderjow's Russian Dance) which has a natural frequency response and sounds like a real bayan -- not like some hybrid recording-studio concoction.

Overall, the sound quality is excellent and the program notes (in German, English and French) consist of only two sentences in which Lips thanks his listening public for nearly thirty years of support.

This album will be a delight for all classical accordion lovers.

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