“Album of the week” - CBC

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Do Bach and Leonard Cohen belong on the same album as contemporary tangos and Armenian folk songs? Overture is born from my passion for performing amazing music that shatters accordion stereotypes. Drawn from years of concerts, this unique cocktail reflects my passion for the multifaceted history and future of the accordion.


Makkonen’s Tango-Toccata takes me back to playing at the 2011 world championships in Shanghai, with its fiery opening and passionate exposé of the power of the free-bass accordion (where both hands have full range). Bach’s French Suite no. 5 shows the accordion’s pure voice – balanced, refined and with pristine clarity of lines. The accordion grew popular partly because it could accompany itself, and in Moon River, I take this to the extreme, creating a complex harmonic fabric with the left hand, allowing the right hand total freedom to sing. A pair of Armenian selections follows; Tzaghgatz Baleni is mournful and beautiful, spinning layers of sounds into webs. Khatchaturian’s Tokkata was originally for piano, but I think it’s spectacular on accordion. Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah can be played many different ways; here I elected for a more somber, sentimental interpretation. Except for Tokkata (Friedrich Lips), all these transcriptions are my own. Since I have enjoyed writing music for many years, I also wanted to include my composition, Intoxicating, inspired by my infatuation with the music of Piazzolla and infused with a dangerous playfulness. For both Misty and the 1812 Overture, I play digital accordion, which gives me the ability to play all the sounds you hear live in a single take. Its incomparable power as a synthesizer is both daunting and liberating, putting me into the role of an orchestral conductor who gets to decide ‘when’ and ‘how’ every part should be played – with the power of an orchestra at my fingertips. This album is just my ‘Overture’, so until next time, happy listening…

© Michael Bridge 2010-2018