The accordion is, without a doubt, a very popular instrument in Latvia. An essential aspect of most every countryside šlāger ensemble, the quaint sound made by air pushed through the instrument brings forth thoughts of evenings in French cafes or German beer gardens. Unfortunately, some might not consider the ‘accordion’ a serious instrument – relegated to being played by buskers on street corners.
However, as Latvians manage to excel at most every musical instrument they come across, it was inevitable that the accordion as well would finds its way into the hands of a talented musician, thereby joining the ranks of truly ‘serious’ instruments. This musician is Ksenija Sidorova who has made quite a name for herself internationally performing the accordion.
Born in Riga, and encouraged to play the accordion at the age of five by her grandmother, Ksenija quickly made her way to the Royal Academy of Music in London, where she excelled with her accordion skills, winning many awards along the way.
In 2013, Ksenija released her second CD, Fairy Tales (her first CD was 2011’s simply titled Classical Accordion). Collecting a number of performances of works with themes of fantasy and the supernatural, Sidorova provides bravura performances with the ‘squeezebox’, making for an enchanting journey through fantastic worlds. Combining both solo performances, as well as performances accompanied by the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, conducted by Clark Rundell, the CD serves as an excellent showcase for the talents of this young musician.
One of the centerpieces of this recording is the seven movement “Fairy Tales Concerto” by Czech composer Vaclav Trojan. Going from the majestic in the sixth movement – “The Sailor and the Enchanted Accordion”, to the humorously frenetic fifth movement – “The Naughty Roundabout”, to the dreamy and romantic second movement – “The Sleepy Princess”, this series of fairy tales becomes a memorable way to allow Sidorova, using the accordion accompanied by the orchestra, to express a number of different of emotions and visions, creating a dazzling world filled with colorful characters.
The interplay between Sidorova and the BBC National Orchestra of Wales is on display in the performance of “Oblivion” by Argentinian composer Astor Piazzolla, and the recording also features violinist Thomas Gould. This sentimental and melancholic work closes out the CD, showing that Sidorova is not only adept at playing more ‘flashy’ works, but can also use the accordion to express a range of emotions and feelings in a more subdued environment.
The solo works also allow Sidorova’s talent to shine through. For example, “Caprice Espagnol” by Moritz Moszkowski, a lively Spanish-style work with many opportunities for fireworks. Also present on this CD is the “Scherzo” from Felix Mendelssohn’s ballet music for A Midsummer Night’s Dream. This work, originally intended to bridge the point in the ballet when the setting changes from the earthly to the fairy realm – bridging the earthly with the unearthly – gives Sidorova the opportunity to display her dramatic talents.
The CD booklet features an extensive write-up of the performer in English, and also of the chosen pieces and composers.
Raising the profile of the accordion within the world of classical music is one of Sidorova’s main goals, and Fairy Tales has done a quite remarkable job of achieving just that. From virtuoso performances to emotive melodies, the accordion in Sidorova’s hands becomes something quite magical and memorable, sweeping the listener away through varied unearthly landscapes. Fairy Tales confirms that both Sidorova, and the accordion should be placed among the elite in the classical music world.
Artist website: http://www.ksenijasidorova.com
1. Moritz Moszkowski – Caprice Espagnol
2. Vaclav Trojan – Fairy Tales Concerto for Orchestra and Accordion – I. Let us Dance into the Fairy Tales
3. II. The Sleepy Princess
4. III. The Magic Box
5. IV. The Enchanted Princess, the Brave Princess and the Evil Dragon
6. V. The Naughty Roundabout
7. VI. The Sailor and the Enchanted Accordion
8. VII. The Acrobatic Fairy Tale
9. Artem Vassiliev – Who’s the Puppet?
10. Edvard Grieg – Holberg Suite – I. Praeludium
11. II. Sarabande
12. III. Gavotte
13. IV. Air
14. V. Rigaudon
15. Felix Mendelssohn – Scherzo from a Midsummer Night’s Dream
16. Petr Londonov – Scherzo-Toccata
17. Astor Pizzolla – Oblivion
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