Vincent Lhermet accordion, Marianne Muller viola da gamba
harmonia mundi musique HMM 902610
Transcriptions of Bull, Dowland, East, Gibbons & Hume, etc.
A review of this CD of music by 17th-century masters Tobias Hume, John Dowland, Orlando Gibbons, Michael East and John Bull and contemporary composers Thierry Tidrow and Philippe Hersant played on modern button accordion and viola da gamba probably has no place on the EMR website. However, I found the arrangements and the playing so charming and idiomatic that I decided to include it. The plain vibrato-free sound of the accordion (yes, they can switch off that offensive warbling effect!) blends absolutely beautifully with the viol’s elegant tone, and at times you forget you are listening to what on paper looks like a bizarre combination, and hear instead the sound of a viol consort or a viol and organ combination. Of the two contemporary pieces receiving their world premiere recordings, I preferred the Hersant, but actually the early music is the main strength of this CD. Both accordionist Vincent Lhermet and viol player Marianne Müller have a fine sense of the idiom of this 17th-century chamber repertoire. This CD is a testimony to the fact that fine musicianship and a feel for idiom can transcend the mere mechanics of HIP performance. I play clarinet in a duo with a button accordionist, and we shall now be exploring some of this earlier repertoire!
D. James Ross