Poul Ruders Dream Catcher – An Accordion Showpiece

In America, most people don’t consider the accordion a symphonic instrument. In northern Europe, though, it’s a different matter. Danish composer Poul Ruders isn’t the only classical musician to write for the instrument. He’s definitely one of the more talented, though.

Sound and Simplicity is fairly new work, completed in 2018. Ruders subtitled it “Seven Pillars of Music for Accordion and Symphony Orchestras. Each of the pillars represents a very simple and fundamental musical idea. In one movement, it’s simply a sustained chord.

Ruders uses these ideas as foundations to build upon. He avoided naming this work a concerto — and rightly so. The accordion is the primary voice in the ensemble. But it’s not the showcase instrument. Rather, the accordion adds zest to the orchestral sound.

Also this release presents two related works. One is Bjarke Morgensen’s arrangement of “Dream Catcher.” it’s from Ruder’s “Serenade on the Shores of the Cosmic Ocean” for accordion and string quartet. This arrangement for solo accordion is quite effective. To me, it sounded true to the source material. At the same time, it gave a different perspective to the underlying construction of the work.

Symphony No. 3 “Dreamcatcher” is based on that same movement from Serenade. But what a difference. Ruders transforms the music into something bigger, more emotional, and — well — symphonic. Hearing Morgsen’s arrangement followed by Ruder’s reimagining of the same material was revelatory.

I’d recommend this not only to those who like classical accordion music. I’d also recommend it to those who don’t think they like it. These performances — and this music — may well change your mind.

Poul Ruders: Dream Catcher
Bjarke Mogensen, accordion
Odense Symfoniorkester; Sebastian Lang-Lessing, Scott Yoo, conductors
Bridge Records 9553

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