We welcomed violinist Thomas Gould and accordionist Ksenija Sidorova to open our 2014/15 season. We had an absolute ball – what a duo these two musicians make.

This recital was somewhat different from the more traditional forms of classical music that we usually present but this duo provided real heat and intimacy to our already cosy atmosphere at Breinton. 

Three movements from Alfred Schnittke’s Suite in the Old Style (Pastorale, Ballet and Pantomime) were enough to introduce the wonder of this fascinating combination of two instruments and to engage the audience. Breaking out of the shell of traditional form and sounds, JS Bach’s Sonatas in G presented a completely new style to our audience, performed with the accordion instead of the piano. It was compelling and purifying. Bela Bartok’s Romanian Folk Dances were exciting, rhythmical and thrilling. Deep, earth shaking sounds of the accordion and the distinguishingly skilled violin were flying sparks. In Pe Loc, the mysterious harmonic sounds of the violin were so haunting, many of the audience tried to figure out where the sounds were coming from and how!

The first piece of the second half was Ksenija’s solo, Schnittke’s Revis Fairy Tale. What masterful artistry and dexterity. The contrast between dark and light, and the range and capacity of the instrument opened up a whole new world of sounds. Ksenija explained that the accordion is still a relative new comer to the instrumental world, becoming prominent only in 1960’s. She hopes that, 50 years down the line, the instrument will be heard more and more. So do we. By the way our youngest son, Jasper, was attentively listening and observing the accordion while she played, trying to count the buttons on the left hand side, eventually figuring out how many there were. At the end he said, “But I still cannot figure out how that works!”

Then the duo went straight into Latin mode. Astor Piazzola’s Café 1903 and Oblivion were originally composed for the guitar and flute. Oh, but what a beautifully mellowing arrangement for violin and accordion. Thom’s violin, as if you were hearing it at some distance in the misty atmosphere of a smoky cafe, knew how to touch our senses and melt us into pieces. The famous Oblivion was bittersweet and sentimental; you rarely hear the instruments so gorgeously uniting and complementing each other like this. 

And finally Monti’s Czardas - the instruments sparked and the music sparkled. It was exquisite, exotic, intertwining, witty, and most of all so enjoyable. 

The duo are musically artistic, articulate, creative and magnetic,  and have lovely personalities and a superb chemistry between them. Their spontaneous communication and musical inspiration were adored by all. This is exactly why I wanted to bring them to Breinton; I fell in love with their music making the minute I heard them a few years ago. Now that it happened, I would like to see them more in various venues all across UK and elsewhere – they have so much to offer. So my music society colleagues and friends, go on and engage them!