The Free-Reed Review
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CD Review: Maritta and Ari-Matti Saira

Maritta and Ari-Matti Saira, accordions


Astor Piazzolla: Close Your Eyes And Listen
Piazzolla: Adios Nonino
Antonio Soler: Concerito a
Soler: Concerto D
Torbjorn Lundquist: Ballad Wolfgang Jacobi: Kammermusic I
Jacobi: Kammermusik II
Piazzolla: Cite Tango
Piazzolla: Coral

total time: 54:50
released: 1996
review date: March 1999

label: AMS Production Ky (AMSCD 201)
Order from: Ari-Matti Saira
Havutie 3
FIN-31600 Jokioinen
p/fax: +358 3 4384 174B Email:

Or f.ex. from Karthaus Schmuelling, Germany
Postfach 1609
D-59159 Kamen
tel: +49 2307 75115
fax: +49 2307 71822

Review by Henry Doktorski:

The Finnish husband-and-wife accordion duet team of Maritta and Ari-Matti Saira have recorded a CD which, I predict, will be cherished by classical accordion lovers. As founder of The Classical Free-Reed, Inc., I have to date listened to over 150 CDs which have been submitted for review in the pages of The Free-Reed Review, and, I might add, only a handful have I enjoyed as much as this one.

Classical music connoisseurs regard highly the keyboard concertos of Padre Antonio Soler (1729-1783), a student of Domenico Scarlatti. They were intended to be played on two keyboards, either harpsichord or organ, but the accordion -- a type of chamber organ -- authentically fulfills the spirit of the works. In this CD the duo accordionists capture the flavor of the Spanish Baroque in their precise and articulate performance.

Torbjorn Lundquist (b. 1920) is a Swedish composer who has contributed much to the serious accordion literature due to his association with the Danish accordionist Mogens Ellegaard. Ballada is a (nearly) ten minute work in three movements: (Alla ballada, Aria, Rondo).

Wolfgang Jacobi (1894-1972) was one of the first composers to write important original music for the accordion, including Serenade und Allegro (1958) for accordion and orchestra, Kinderspiele in Ascoli for accordion orchestra, Impromptu for solo accordion and accordion orchestra, and solo pieces such Scherzo, Franzosische Ouverture and Tanz. Many of Jacobi's works were written in collaboration with the Swiss accordionist and pedagogue, Hugo Noth.

The two works on this CD, Kammermusik I and Kammermusik II, to my ear at least, have a sound similar in style to another great German composer, Paul Hindemith. It is curious to note that Hindemith also wrote a kammermusik series. The first, Kammermusik I (1922), includes accordion. The works by Lundquist and Jacobi which appear on this CD were originally written for accordion duet.

Maritta and Ari-Matti Saira reserve the most prominent positions on the CD (beginning and ending) to the Argentinean composer and bandoneonist, Astor Piazzolla (1921-1992). Adios Nonino especially struck me with its superb duet arrangement by the Polish composer and accordionist Krzysztof Olczak; it included some very clever and subtle bellows work on repeated chords. Ari-Matti's accordion soared during the lyrical melodies and sounded very much like Astor Piazzolla's bandoneon. His wife provided solid yet unobtrusive accompaniments. Noteworthy was Ari-Matti's masterful sense of rubato, which is essential in Piazzolla's music. I have heard several world-class accordionists perform Piazzolla mechanically, without a natural-sounding rubato. Ari-Matti, on the other hand, has mastered this difficult and subtle art.

Coral is truly not just a fine CD, but in my opinion, it is a great CD, for many things: its interesting and accessible programming (the original works are quite pleasant to listen to), excellent performing and life-like engineering. Oh yes, the CD booklet notes are also very good; they are written in Finnish and English by Matti Rantanen.

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