Ksenija Sidorova here demonstrates the remarkable potential of the accordion, not an instrument generally appreciated in classical circles. It was certainly appreciated by Arne Nordheim and Luciano Berio in their often spectacular pieces for the instrument, Flashing by Nordheim and Berio’s long series of solo Sequenzas. That gives a clear idea of the surprising dynamic and expressive range of the instrument, brilliantly exploited by Sidorova.
The original accordion piece by Schnittke is rather different. The four brief movements of Revis Fairy Tale follow directly on from the Mozart Variations on the nursery rhyme “Ah! vous dirai-je, maman”, with the opening movement, “Chichikov’s Childhood”. That introduces the element of fun, which runs through many of Sidorova’s performances. In the Schnittke pieces, “Officials” brings a sly dig at the Soviet system, while the third-movement “Waltz” brings a scrunching “pah-pah” after each “oom”.
Another superb example of fun-playing comes in the Scarlatti Sonata in D major, Kk33, with spectacular repeated triplets, while the Takahashi piece, Like a Water Buffalo, involves sounds like those of the wild animal. The Bach Overture is also fascinating, with Sidorova making the accordion sound like a miniature organ. The final item also includes the Sacconi Quartet in the first of the five Tango Sensations of Piazzolla, “Asleep”, a lullaby to end with, instead of a firework. An attractive and unusual disc.