Diatonic strings Duo

What is the latest thing that a violin and a diatonic accordion have in common?

The album "Ragbag", created by the "Diatonic Strings Duo", a project carried out by the violin player Rok Kleva Ivančič, former member of the Istrian group Vruja, and the accordion player Manuel Šavron. In fact, the two of them have been working together for quite a long time, since 2006.

The result that the two musicians have achieved with their experimentation is, without any doubt, different, maybe even revolutionary, as the album "Ragbag" embodies a newly formed jazz variation of traditional melos. The album is uncommon and unusual, but that is why it is so enjoyable. It tingles the ear, but in just the right way, and it keeps the listener focused throughout. In the roughly half an hour long repertoire, the two musicians have created a fascinating musical mosaic. It draws from the vast pool of traditional folk melos, travelling from northern to southern Europe, from Swedish and Breton to Macedonian folk music heritage. Naturally the Slovenian music heritage (from the regions of Pomurje and Istria) has not been neglected either.

Their music bears a distinct jazz component, which transforms the "entering" tradition into a contemporary "exit", but it is also an extremely important element, which has effectively and uniquely "transformed" the album's well-known songs. In Slovenia alone, these songs had undergone various arrangement reconceptualisations and variations in the past. Diationc Strings Duo present their own, new and unusual variations of the songs, and this is what keeps the album "Ragbag" attractive throughout. The way the two musicians complement each other is amazing. Their chemistry is undeniable, it is evident that they have been playing together for a long time and that they know and perceive each other's playing extremely well. Their playing is constantly intertwined and almost perfectly connected and their harmonisations create a unique acoustic contrast of violin and diatonic accordion.

"Ragbag" is an entertaining collage of world, ethnic and folk music, deeply influenced by a strong jazz component, where the musicians are in no way lacking in playful inspiration in the implementation of numerous improvisational elements. It effectively dissipates the predictable fixedness and rigidity of stereotypes and, through a freedom-loving researchability of creativity, it puts the listener on a path towards the discovery of an as yet unknown world, represented by this incredibly brave and successful bond and dialogue between diatonic accordion and violin.

Aleš Podbrežnik
English translation: Jessica Vodopija

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The way that the diatonic accordion has marked out over the last three decades continues uninterruptedly and constantly moving up: the development of the instrument itself, its repertory and teaching methodology has changed visibly the opinion that most of the audience had about this instrument. If it's true that the diatonic accordion is still mostly present in popular and folk music, we are strongly persuaded that this CD, realized by Manuel Šavron, will convince even the biggest sceptics that it is possible to perform on a diatonic accordion more complex pieces, too, the ones that do not belong to the traditional repertory. Following accurate suggestions and guidelines given by prof. Zoran Lupinc, the pioneer of the diatonic accordion on a larger European territory, and thanks to the excellent master-artisans of the firm "Beltuna" from Castelfidardo, a new model of the diatonic accordion was born several years ago, on  which it is possible to perform different musical genres. This possibility is given thanks to some fundamental innovations: the presence of more registers in both manuals (with a wider tonal palette) and the insertion of a particular bass register, which excludes the triad of the cord harmonies making them "neutral"; it is exactly this innovative technical characteristics that offers the performer the possibility to play in minor mode, while the simultaneous pressure of more buttons brings to a creation of particular chords and harmonies.

Manuel Šavron shows us that the diatonic accordion, which was considered not long time ago, a "popular musical instrument", can reach the level of other musical instruments. Manuel, in his new solo recordings, moves with great skill from French "musette" to Frosinian variations in "Carnevale di Venezia" (Venetian Carnival), from the original Italian music for piano accordion to the elaboration of Russian and Hungarian melodies, without leaving apart some of the best traditional Slovene folk songs. Young Istrian accordionist moves artistically through different musical worlds (hence the title of the CD "Between Worlds") and, thanks to the innovations of his new instrument, deliberately moves away from tradition (hence the subtitle "A Diatonic Getaway") For the first time we are encountering an eclectic, but still homogeneous album where the diatonic accordion performs a variety of musical genres. The charm and the importance of this new CD lies in an ambitious musical project and in Manuel Šavron's excellent interpretation who, through chosen pieces, with immediate and strong impact leads the listener through music over a great part of Europe.

Aleksi Jercog

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