ACCO DUO ROMANCE
Miran Vaupotic and Ivana Levak Vaupotic
Review by: Robert Stead
First--a short quiz. Acco Duo entitled their CD Romance because:
- they love the sonority and power of the accordion
- they love the richness of our musical heritage
- they love playing together and creating beautiful music
- one of the selections is called Romance
- all of the above
And the answer is "e–all of the above". This husband and wife team (Miran Vaupotić and Ivana Levak Vaupotić) have translated their love for their instrument, for their music, and for each other into a beautifully crafted album. While each piece stands on it own, it is within the collection that you hear the mastery of their instrument. The title piece, Romance by Franck Angelis, presents a delicate tapestry of sound. Two players, four hands, and four voices blend together as one in a gentle flow and a very human pulse.
It is indeed that four-by-two-as-one that that prevails in each piece regardless of style. And speaking of style, the selections are quite diverse. The order of the pieces is jarring in the sense that they cause surprise. After Bach comes Schnittke—consonance followed by puncuated dissonance. Ironically, Schnittke's Ouvertire ends with an homage to Bach. The playfulness of Schnittke is followed by Virmenych's Chornobryvtsi—a delightful chorale played with swells that give the effect of waves of sounds. Next we experience the angularity, punctuation, and lyricism of Astor Piazzolla exquisitely performed. From Argentina, we visit France featuring Franck Angelis's Romance and then shift in style one last time to Victor Novikov's Carnival.
In regard to the Concerto in D Minor: Acco Duo breathes life into this piece—literally! They use the dynamic power of the "keyboard with lungs" to shape the performance. They also effectively use registrations to bring out the fugal elements. I know a classically trained musician who feels that Bach should not be performed on the accordion because the accordion did not exist when Bach composed. Of course, using that logic, we should never play Bach on the piano since the piano (as we know it) did not exist then either. Be that as it may, this performance of Bach's transcription of Vivaldi's Concerto in D Minor should convince anyone that the accordion does justice to Baroque music.
Now a word about the first selection—Adagio. The performance is superb and yet I felt that the piece, in itself, does not translate well to the accordion like other Baroque pieces. As I discovered, this piece is controversial. It is usually referred to as "Albinoni's Adagio" and arranged by Remo Giazotto (1910-1998). However there is evidence that in fact it is an original composition by Giazotto and usually performed by strings and organ. This, for me, does not detract anything from the beauty of the composition, but I think it explains why I felt that something was missing. Baroque pieces, by an large, are "platform independent". They translate well to different ensembles. Pieces from later eras are not always so plastic. I think that the Adagio (a neo-baroque composition) is one such piece that misses something in the translation—in this case, the factor of the strings. All of that being said, Acco Duo does a masterful job interpreting the piece. In so doing, they set the stage for all that follows.
ACCO DUO ROMANCE
Miran Vaupotic and Ivana Levak Vaupotic
Review by: Joan Cochran Sommers
From Zagreb, Croatia, come both members of this very exceptional duo team who are also husband and wife. You will enjoy and admire the performance of every single selection on this outstanding CD.
It begins with the Albinoni "Adagio" followed by the Vivaldi/Bach "Concerto in d minor, BWV 596" and ends with Novikov's "Samba-Carnival" and certainly exhibiting very different styles of music. The Acco Duo team, however, delivers the music of those composers and all those in between, Schnittke, Virmenych, Piazzolla, and Angelis, with artistry and flair.
The CD notes have numerous endorsements by well-known musicians and I can only echo their words of praise! You will do so, too. I must admit that I had favorites among the selections. The Alfred Schnittke "Fairy Tale" was absolutely wonderful; every note was superb. All the music on the CD has been arranged by Acco Duo and this is among the best of all.
The next piece, "Chornobryvtsi" by Virmenych is a close runner-up, however. It is beautifully contemplative and genuinely sensitive throughout. And, while it is a totally different type of piece from the Schnittke, both pieces require the same careful attention to phrasing and exacting control of the bellows. These players are equally matched in those abilities, it seems. They exhibit finesse with every phrase ending. The bending of the low reeds and the quick bellows shakes in the Schnittke again exemplifies a purposeful musical artistry rather than a mere trick for entertainment.
"Romance" by the French composer, Franck Angelis, is only one of his most outstanding additions to the accordion/bayan repertoire. Angelis, in composing for the accordion, is an absolute genius in evoking some of the same exquisite musical qualities so often heard in the music written for organ by several very famous and popular French composers. Let us hope he continues to turn out such gems for a very long lifetime! While the duo does a fine performance of this piece, and it is interesting to hear it performed as a duo, I find it difficult for them to give it the more impetuous and less-controlled rubato so often heard when performed by a soloist. On the other hand, Angelis may indeed like it exactly in this manner; it is, after all, a very fine performance and one to be admired!
Of course, you will enjoy the two Piazzolla standards "Adios Nonino" and "Violentango"; they are exciting arrangements and played very well. The Novikov "Samba-Carnival" is a perfect piece on which to close the concert. Personally, to provide a bit more excitement, I would have enjoyed a bit less legato and more detachment since it is such a great dance piece, but that is nit-picking by an individual. This is wonderful playing by an equally fine duo team.
Buy this recording; add it to your collection! I recommend it very highly. Every single selection is worth the price of the CD. You will like listening to it many times and you won't get tired of hearing the pieces over and over. The artists are outstanding performers and they have arranged the pieces extremely well for their instruments. They know all the boundaries of both high and low reeds on their instruments and they both show outstanding musical interpretative abilities. Be sure and read all the musical attributes on the CD; they will only reinforce your own good opinions!
The CD is produced by Classic Concert records. The catalog number of the CD "Romance" is CCR 62045 and its available through Classic Concert Music Group.