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Notes & Reviews:

This release by accordionist Ksenija Sidorova is a bit difficult to classify, and therein lies its considerable appeal. It contains tunes from Bizet's Carmen, some of the most familiar tunes in the entire classical repertory. The accordion, an instrument on the fringes of the tradition, cannot help but evoke the strolling musicians of a century ago who might have made a living by playing operatic hits just like these. Yet the album is not a contemporary crossover release, nor one bringing nostalgia for the east European cafes of a century ago. Get past the novelty and you'll find a striking variety of treatments of Bizet's music. Sidorova is accompanied by no fewer than three ensembles: a chamber wind-and-string group called Nuevo Mundo, a trio of piano, guitar, and percussion, and the Borusan Istanbul Philharmonic Orchestra, candidly touted in the booklet as having "set its sights on becoming an orchestra of the finest calibre" (it may be that they're already there). You might think the musical results would be all over the map, but the mix of slinky accordion, jazz-like percussion, and careful chamber arrangements of Bizet's tunes holds together. Credit may go to musical director and pianist Michael Abramovich, but it accrues as well to Sidorova, who has both the chops and the attitude to pull off a project that's fun and sexy, sure, but also bracing and novel. ~ James Manheim


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