Second In:Spire concert

The second In:Spire concert on 18 January

The second concert of her second series of In:Spire, Music at Twilight, on 18 January, was introduced by Annabelle Lawson, who practises regularly in the church. It was threatening to snow and 41 brave souls came to hear the Serbian classical accordion player, Zivorad Nikolic. This instrument is different to the piano accordion, in that instead of a piano keyboard, there are 120 small buttons for the left hand and perhaps 100 for the right hand, 65 of which are white and the remainder black. It looks incredibly difficult to play, as none of the keys is within sight and it is extremely heavy. The movement of the bellows determines whether the sound of a note is short and sharp or long and legato. The instrument was originally designed as a portable organ for use in rural churches which could not afford a large organ.

“Jivo”, as he is called, has performed internationally and plays classical as well as folk music, and has his own 6-piece band, Paprika, performing traditional music from Eastern Europe. He has played since early childhood, trained in Serbia and France and graduated from the Royal Academy of Music in London.

A commentary before each piece gave context to each item. The programme began with a 3- part sonata by Angelis, an American, and was striking for the use of vibrato on many notes. The first Piazzolla piece was called Oblivion and the soothing quality made its name significant; it was followed by a recognisable Tango, fusing Argentine rhythm and classical music. Two sonatas by Domenico Scarlatti were extraordinary with beautiful legato instead of the usual, more staccato harpsichord sound.

The third piece, by a Czech composer, “The ruined castle”, was written specifically for solo accordion and referred to a bombed building, evoking stillness and mournfulness. Next were two pieces by a contemporary Breton, Yann Tiersen, from his film score for Amélie, La Noyée and Aquai, familiar to some in the audience.

There was then a medley of Balkan folk tunes with their strange, haunting rhythm. Finally there was a merry southern Spanish folk dance tune, Malagena, making us feel like dancing and drawing a delightful evening to a close. The audience was intrigued by the instrument and it was hard for Jivo to reach for the refreshments as so many wanted to speak to him. This was another great success for Annabelle and we look forward to the next concert, featuring her own string trio February.