Not the singles charts, not even the album charts but the top of “Classical Album charts”. Martynas Levickis and his eponymous album of light classical and pop music has, at the time of writing, been there at number 1 rubbing shoulders with the likes of Ludovico Einaudi for two weeks and counting.
This isn’t the sort of serious classical Accordion music that half fills Cathedrals and Accordion clubs, this is the sort of Classical music that sells out large concert venues and (even stadiums??).
For me, as well played as they are, it isn’t the classical works that show Martynas and his Accordion off at their best. Apart from perhaps one or two grace notes too many, it is Lady Gaga’s Telephone, Katy Perry’s Hot n Cold and Ai Se Eu Te Pego that demonstrate another string or two to the Accordion’s bow.
To date it is averaging 5 stars on iTunes and Amazon and like it or not, it can only help increase the popularity of the accordion. If you like that sort of thing, well worth a look (or listen)!
Straight in with the big guns and it was Bach’s Toccata & Fugue in D minor to start. Giving the Organ a run for its money in the power and volume stakes and, as explained by Paul, given an added level of intimacy when performed on the Accordion.
The light virtuosity of the Scarlatti contrasted well with the Bach and demonstrated further the musical versatility of Paul and the instrument.
Bach and Scarlatti aren’t so unusual on the Accordion these days, but with Classical Accordion programmes often dominated by highly dissonant and challenging contemporary works, it was very refreshing to hear some original works for the instrument with beautiful melodies and harmonies that the average “classical music concert goer” wouldn’t find too difficult to enjoy.
It was however in the more modern and challenging contemporary works in which I felt Paul excelled. His beautiful shaping of the melodic lines in the Nagayev showed off his innate musicality.
With a very energetic performance of Katchaturian’s Toccata to finish, this was a polished, virtuosic and musically skilled performance of a thoroughly enjoyable programme.
A bit like Andy Murray, Paul is a Scotsman doing very well in a world usually dominated by foreigners and I suspect his personality, repertoire choice and sensitive musicianship will mean his current success can only be set to continue.
Paul Chamberlain played classical accordion at the Bridgewater Hall, Manchester on 13th February 2013