“L’Arbre de Vie” (The Tree of Life) – J.S. BACH: Prelude & Fugue in D, Jeu meine freude, Erbarm dich mein o Herre Gott, Chaconne in d; BACH-BUSONI: Nun komm’ der Heiden Heiland; TAKAHASHI: Like a Water Buffalo; PATRICK BUSSEUIL: L’arbre de Vie; SOFIA GUBAIDULINA: De Profundis – Mika Vayrynen, accordion – Alba Records multichannel SACD ABCD 220, 66:43 [Distr. by Albany] ****:
In Northern and Eastern Europe and Russia, an entire concert or disc of classical accordion music is not that unusual, but in North America it’s definitely a minority interest. Nonetheless, braver collectors and music lovers would do well to investigate the amazing virtuosity of this performer – playing a button accordion – the interesting contrasts provided by sandwiching the contemporary works among the transcriptions of Bach, and by the realistic and involving surround sonics provided by the Finnish label Alba.
Vayrynen’s idea was to group the works – separated by over 200 years – in such a way that they might communicate musically to the listener without considerations of time and period. Bach transcriptions – no matter the instrument – never seem to fail, and the closing one of the famous Chaconne is a marvel. It is in some ways even more powerful and gripping than the original for solo violin. The CD’s title tune by Busseuil is a sort of mini pictures at an exhibition – each short movement was inspired by a painting or print. But the show-stopper here is Russian composer Gubaidulina’s powerful De Profundis. One of several works she has written for the accordion, it opens with some highly electronic/musique concrete sounds which are genuinely disturbing. Its theme is a journey from the dark depths to radiance and salvation, and as usual the darker part gets the most interesting sounds.
— John Sunier