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CD Review: Morten Rossen

Cassa Fisarmonia

Morten Rossen, accordion
Ulrik Cold, baritone
Jesper Buhl, baritone
Orchester des Theaters Zwickau
Albrecht Hofmann, conductor


Bronislav Kazimierz Przybylski: Concerto Classico (recorded live): (for accordion and orchestra)

Per Norgard: Laengsel, Limbo & Opfyldelse: (two songs and intermezzo for baritone and accordion on a text by Hanne Groes)
Per Norgard: Recall (recorded live): (for accordion and orchestra)
Sven Erik Werner: Sange for Baryton & Harmonika: (on a text by Sophus Claussen)
Vladislav Zolotarjov: Partita (for solo accordion)

Total Time: 73:23
Released in 1993

Label: The Danish Accordion Academy (DDHA 1)

Lyngolmen 1
3460 Birkerod

Review by Henry Doktorski:

The Danish accordionist Morten Rossen -- who, by the way, celebrates his twenty-sixth birthday on April 4, 1997 -- is a star pupil of Jeanette Dyremose, the founder of the Danish Accordion Academy. He began accordion studies with her at the age of six and at the age of ten became a member of Det Danske Harmonika Ensemble -- one of the world's finest accordion ensembles -- which has toured in the USA, Canada, Germany, Bulgaria, Poland, the Netherlands, Sweden, Norway and Denmark.

Within a few years Rossen established himself as soloist and won many first prizes at prestigious competitions such as the Klingenthaler Harmonikawettbewerbe, UNESCO Accordion Competition, and the Berlingskes Musikkonkurrence.

In June 1992, after winning the prestigious Simon Spies Foundation Music Award at the age of twenty-one, he was requested by Danmarks Radio to break off his vacation in Cyprus and return home to accompany Luciano Pavarotti, the world famous Italian tenor, who wanted an accordion player added to the Danmarks Radios Symfoniorkester for his performance. At the first rehearsal -- after only a few bars of accordion solo -- Pavarotti asked for more sound from Rossen's "magnificent Italian accordion." The concert was witnessed by 60,000 persons -- 16,000 present at the arena and the rest watching via gigantic video monitors put up in three different places in Denmark.

The content of this CD will satisfy the most discriminating classical music listener: superb composers, superb musicians, superb instruments (Rossen plays a Borsini five-row button accordion) and superb recording engineering.

The Polish composer B.K. Przybylski has written dozens of works for accordion, including two concertos and one concertina. Concerto Classico opens with a stunning accordion cadenza which introduces the principle motif of the first movement: a three note figure consisting of tonic, leading tone and tonic.

Per Norgard and Sven Erik Werner are well-known Scandinavian composers who have written much for the accordion. The Cantico Antico from Norgard's Recall is poetic and delicate and contains some interesting sustained ostinato tones on the accordion, while the other two movements are more dance-like. I consider Per Norgard to be for the accordion what Joaquin Rodrigo was for the guitar: pioneers who helped popularize a relatively young instrument by their mature yet easily accessible compositions.

Vladislav Zolotarjov is regarded as one of the greatest Soviet composers who wrote for the bayan. Although Zolotaryov (1942-1975) wrote vocal music, string quartets, compositions for chamber and symphony orchestras and an oratorio (Monument to the Revolution), his works for bayan are considered to be his greatest musical achievements.

Lips and Surkov wrote in Anthology of Compositions for Button Accordion, "The creative work of Vl. Zolotaryov can be described as a milestone of the utmost importance for the incontestable progress of accordion music. . . . In his Partita (1968), Six Children's Suites (1969/74), his Sonata No. 2 (1971) and Sonata No. 3 (1972), and Five Compositions (1971), the advantages of the new-type [converter free-bass] accordion have, as never before, been wholly revealed. The instrument has become a full and equal participant in the chamber sphere of art music."

Zolotarjov's Partita is a dramatic work which is required repertoire for classical accordionists. Rossen performs the work with dignity and precision.

The text of the CD booklet is written in English, except for the texts of the songs which are written only in Danish. I wonder why no English translations for the songs were provided, especially since the CD booklet notes seem to be targeted to an English speaking audience.

This CD is very pleasant to listen to and will be attractive to a wide audience, as the works chosen are tonal and easy to listen to; there are no strident atonal tone clusters or other such discordant twentieth-century innovations on this CD. All the works on this album (with the possible exeption of Zolotarjov) I consider to be written in a neo-classical or neo-romantic style.

(By the way, it was very reassuring for me to hear the cracking sounds of Rossen's Borsini instrument as he gently opened and closed his bellows during the very quiet pianissimo solo passages. For a while I thought I was the only accordionist who had a noisy bellows!)

In my opinion Cassa Fisarmonia is a must for classical accordion aficionados.

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