Motion Trio, “Polonium” (Warner Classics). This disc is fascinating because of a line of fine print: “This is 100% acoustic recording with no electronic effects of any kind.” It’s not that I don’t believe it, but sometimes it’s hard to believe. If you think one accordion is scary – some people do – imagine three of them, all trying to push the envelope of the instrument’s capabilities. And all playing – wait for it – the music of Gorecki, Lutoslawski and Penderecki. None of the music is what you could call enjoyable. To be honest, I actually could not stand most of it. But you get unearthly, incredible noises. Penderecki’s “Chaconne in memoriam John Paul II” ends in ghostly sighs. Lutoslawski’s “Bucolics” begin with the squeezeboxes twittering like birds. In Gorecki’s Concerto for Harpsichord and Swing Orchestra, the three accordions stand in for the orchestra, groaning and buzzing. Wojciech Kilar’s minimalist “Orawa” is the closest we come to anything familiar. You get accordions at least doing what you’re used to hearing them do, laying down a beat, playing repeated figures. Come to think of it, I hope that experimental efforts like this don’t rob the accordion of its traditional reputation as an instrument that says, “Party!” I would miss it.
– Mary Kunz Goldman