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Review : Accordion Concerto

 30 June 2006 at  

Cheltenham Festival
Halle Orchestra, Martyn Brabbins, James Crabb
Sally Beamish : The Singing

  Sally Beamish : The Singing  John Robertson at 09:36 on 11 July 2006

It was interesting to hear a concerto for this most versatile instrument. Beamish's score worked the full range of the accordion from the tiny piccolo-like wails in the opening through to powerful, almost saxophonic lower-register lines.

The piece itself mixed gritty and driving orchestral textures with sudden Scottish-inspired elements, and in truth the two didn't always blend convincingly. The violin solo at the end of the first movement appears to arrive out of nowhere, and the beautiful bagpipe imitations at the start of the second disappear equally suddenly. Yes, the piece was intended to be a "lament for the Highland clearances", but this seemed a somewhat crude attempt to invoke Scottish models.

Accordianist James Crabb was a convincing advocate for his instrument - let's hope there are many more concertos for this amazing instrument.

[the piece should be available on the radio 3 website for the rest of this week I think]

  Re: Sally Beamish : The Singing  David Bruce at 11:32 on 14 July 2006

Thanks for posting this John, I'm a great fan of the accordion myself. I enjoyed this piece via the radio 3 listen again feature - thanks for bringing it to my attention