Klaus Paier and Asja Valcic Timeless Suite
(ACT 9598-2. Review by Jon Carvell)
Writer Alan Moore once said “Life isn’t divided into genres. It’s a horrifying, romantic, tragic, comical, science fiction, cowboy, detective novel.” Certainly, this new album by the Austrian accordionist Klaus Paier and the Croatia-born 'cellist Asja Valcic’s, a member of radio.string.quartet.vienna, isn’t separated into such categories, and whilst mercifully there are no cowboys involved, a broader range of influences could not have been assembled.
Many of the seemingly disparate styles on this disc are unified by their genesis in dance forms. Beginning with Incontro Con Stravinsky, which takes wing from the ballet score of Pulcinella, Paier and Valcic then alight on a charming waltz (Inside A Flower), a sultry tango (Vocalmente) and a Bach Sarabande. As the album title suggests, these forms are timeless, and they create a connecting thread which allows Paier and Valcic to hop between past and present.
Considerations of concept and unity aside, the accordion is not always an easy sell. (What’s the definition of an optimist? An accordionist with a mobile phone!) Happily though, Paier has a gift for melody and a formidable technique, and uses every facet of the instrument imaginatively to create a diverse array of textures - most notably in the delicate cluster chords at the start of Amelie’s Fairy Tale. Valcic has a similarly versatile approach, and employs an assortment of extended techniques comfortably alongside her expressive tone.
Given the inclusion of both Bach and Brubeck on this disc, it will almost certainly be deemed crossover - a term which sets alarm bells ringing for many. But leave your preconceptions at the door, because this is a listenable and well-crafted album, no matter what label it might be given.