In the elegant simplicity of Shrewsbury’s Unitarian Church, Miloš Milivojević delighted his capacity audience with an hour of virtuosic accordion playing. His career has taken him around the world and unsurprisingly won countless awards.
Viktor Vlasov, who was born in 1930, composed for accordion “Five Sights on Country Gulag”. The work was inspired by the novels of three Soviet writers including Solzhenitsyn. Although it is many years since I read the works of that brilliant and courageous genius, the memory of those extraordinary books came flooding back; the history of this dark period in history should never be forgotten. The music, in five sections, depicts aspects of life in the gulag; it opens with a depiction of a long winter’s night which produced a howling wind which one would never expect to hear from a musical instrument. Every movement could be imagined as cinematic image; indeed, the programme notes said it is not a “comfortable” but it gave Milos many opportunities to display his technical wizardry.
JS Bach provided a contrast. In the early 18th century he wrote a group of 46 short organ chorale preludes which he collected under the title “The Little Organ Book”. They are so short that all 46 can be recorded on a single CD. Miloš played “I call to you, Lord Jesus Christ”. In just a few minutes the beauty of the composition, the skill of the performance and the ambience of the venue coalesced to give us an experience of music at its most sublime. Bach headed the title page of the collection as being to the Praise of God; in his playing, Miloš showed us how he could penetrate to the very soul of this exquisite music.
The rest of the programme was an eclectic mix. There was a piece by Semenov, a contemporary composer, often used in international accordion competitions-great for a fireworks display! There were two Scarlatti Sonatas often heard on the harpsichord which went at a cracking pace; a brilliant atmosphere was created in “Asturias” by Albeniz, “Interieur” by contemporary French composer Franck Angelis which was rhythmically exciting.
But the final work of the programme was “Libertango” by Piazzolla. What a fitting end – it was sheer brilliance and set many a foot tapping! The composition also allows the performer scope for improvisation, licence which Miloš exploited. It has all the hallmarks of a Piazzolla piece: dynamic contrasts, great tunes and sheer energy. It brought a brilliant concert to a thrilling end and vindicated Shropshire Music Trust’s policy of bringing the widest variety of music to their appreciative audiences.
The next concert will be on Friday 10th March at 7.30 in St. Alkmund’s Church when the Carducci String Quartet will present a profile of Shostakovich based on his life and letters.