Powered by Two: Music for Saxophone and Accordion

Pavel Fiedler (l), Christoph Reiserer, and Ladislav Horák at the unusual 'Powered by Two' concert presenting innovative music for instruments rarely heard as a duo.

Pavel Fiedler (l), Christoph Reiserer, and Ladislav Horák at the unusual ‘Powered by Two’ concert presenting innovative music for instruments rarely heard as a duo.

Think you know the saxophone and the accordion? As a duo, maybe not!

Six German and Czech composers brought an innovative and novel approach to this unusual combination of instruments at the 6th Czech-German festival ‘New Music Powered by Two’ at Pálffy Palace Oct 23.

The work was assigned by Ladislav Horák, the festival’s founder, accordionist, promoter of contemporary music, and professor at Prague Conservatory.

He played all the accordion parts with saxophonist and Conservatory professor Pavel Fiedler; and Munich experimentalist, autodidact, composer, and pedagogue Christoph Reiserer, who performed his composition in person. The audience was mostly the participants from the afternoon workshop preceding the concert.

If You Missed This Concert you can still hear music by Miloš Orson Štědroň, Ladislav Horák, Pavel Trojan, and Eduard Douša by borrowing their CDs and other materials available at the Municipal Library, Prague.

The old, classical Palffy Palace that belongs to Prague Conservatory resounded with extraordinary and unexpected sounds and tones you would not most likely expect from saxophone and accordion. Once in a while we found ourselves trapped in jungle claws (Czech expression: caught in the middle of something).

To begin the concert, we followed the dramatic, mysterious, lyrical Canzonetta, Nocturno and Finale by Holmer Becker (1955). It was interlaced with tango, joyful slides, puffing, and screaking.

Composer Miloš Orson Štědroň makes a point about the instrumentation.

Composer Miloš Orson Štědroň makes a point about the instrumentation.

The first Czech contribution was by versatile Czech composer Miloš Orson Štědroň (1973) – Misterio Respiro for Saxophone and Accordion. The first part was full of playful croaking, trills, weird chirping, twittering, and also striking accordion vibrations. The second, calmer part was often interrupted by surprisingly extra-terrestrial sounds.

The second German contribution, by Michael Emanuel Bauer (1974), Take…Breath…Take, was accompanied by the composer’s CD of water flowing. Mr Fiedler and Mr Horák played in a very expressive way, and in the fast extracts they harmonized and then together puffed loud breaths of air perfectly and faultlessly. Sometimes they became percussionists by patting their instruments or tapping with their fingernails on the keys. They finished the piece with a sharp blow of air created by suddenly folding the bellows of the accordion and blasting air through the sax. It was quite striking, amusing, and unexpected.

Two Czech composers, Pavel Trojan (1956) and Eduard Douša (1951) contributed Four Pieces for Soprano Saxophone and Accordion and Molto Multi, respectively. Mr Reiserer (1966) performed his Solo, which amazed and charmed the audience by demonstrating the unbelievable potential of the saxophone. At certain moments we could hear the consonance of several tones, or the sound of the Australian didgeridoo.

The concert will be repeated in Munich Nov 20 and Regensburg Nov 21; and in public performance at the Czech Radio Pilsen studio Dec 9. This recording will air on the ‘Hudební Fórum’ program on Rádio Vltava in early 2015.

– Hana Blažková, Opus Osm writer

Photo Credits: Hana Blažková

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