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CD Review: Maritta and Ari-Matti Saira
Sin Palabras

Maritta and Ari-Matti Saira, accordions


Ari-Matti Saira: Traningo
Heikki Valpola: Touches
Merja Ikkelä: Duo for Two Accordions
Petri Makkonen: The Swan
Astor Piazzolla: Years of Solitude
Piazzolla: Milonga sin Palabras
Jukka Särkkä: Coconino
Petri Makkonen: Maybe, however...

total time: 47:14
released: 2000
review date: August 2000

label: AMS Production Ky (AMSCD 202)
Order from: Ari-Matti Saira
Havutie 3
FIN-31600 Jokioinen
p/fax: +358 3 4384 174B

Review by Henry Doktorski:

They've done it again! The Finnish husband-and-wife accordion duet team of Maritta and Ari-Matti Saira have recorded yet another CD which, I predict, will be cherished by classical accordion lovers. (Their first CD was titled Coral.) A truly excellent recording; musically and sonically satisfying. Ari-Matti and Maritta are professional concert accordionists and their CD is professional. They have taste; and I especially appreciate that! All the pieces on this CD, with the exception of the Piazzolla transcriptions, were originally composed for accordion duo.

One line in the CD notes written by Kimmo Mattila caught my attention: "One of the problems of accordion has been the monotonous tone colour -- this Ari-Matti and Maritta manage to turn to their advantage on this record. The two accordions blend into each other in such a way that the listener is surrounded by the power of music and never-ending energy." I agree. When I listen to this CD I do not hear two accordions; I hear only one super-accordion. It reminds me of a work for kunstharmonium for four hands; the range and possibilities are much greater than a single accordionist can do by him or herself.

Enough of my laudations; let's talk about the music. Saira's Traningo is a tribute to Astor Piazzolla, and as such, has a tango flavor. Not surprisingly, the second movement is titled Tango. Heikki Valpola's Touches is a four-movement work which has become a very important piece in the duo accordion repertoire. Merja Ikkelä's three-movement Duo for Two Accordions is the one piece on the CD which, to me, seems folk-inspired. It could have been used in a sound track for a movie set in a rural village.

Petri Makkonen's The Swan is a lazy yet dignified bird. It sings at its own pace with much rubato, and even seems to flap its wings at times, accompanied by a tremulous left-hand cluster. Finally the swan takes off into the sky and leisurely flies in playful circles, as the bass-chord-chord waltz appears. Very nice tone painting.

Years of Solitude and Milong sin Palabras wander from theme to theme and are easily recognizable as Piazzolla pieces by trademarks such as the composer's love for descending minor bass lines, ie. F Eb Db C, etc. Jukka Särkkä's Coconino is a three-movement work with syncopated rhythms. The texture is light and the harmonies slightly dissonant at times. Petri Makkonen's Maybe, however... is a tuneful and relaxing meditation with pleasing harmonies, which ends the CD with a beautiful and quiet conclusion. The CD booklet notes are short but sufficient, and are written in Finnish, English and German. I repeat: truly a magnificent CD for classical free-reed lovers.

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