Sofia Gubaidulina


Dedicated to Geir Draugsvoll


                                 Recent reviews of Geir Draugsvoll performing “Fachwerk”

                     About the British Premiere with London Symphony Orchestra / Valery Gergiev:

In London;

All I can say is that Draugsvoll produced a truly staggering range of sounds and textures with a very resonant and powerful bass register complemented by all kinds of fff to ppp tones in the middle and top registers. From my very euro-centric musical perspective it would be difficult to describe this array of sounds in all the registers of this fascinating instrument, suffice it to say that it has to be heard to be appreciated. ... Tonight’s performance captured the dialectical accompanying element between the reduced string orchestra and the percussion section to perfection, with every glissando and diatonic inflection sounding. But, as implied, it was really the soloist Geir Draugsvoll with his extraordinary instrument, who stole the show!


Sofia Gubaidulina is famous for unusually orchestrated compositions encompassing themes of mystical spiritualism, electronic music and heavy percussion. Having already written for bayan she was so impressed by the Norwegian bayan player Geir Draugsvoll that she composed “Fachwerk” just for him and here he was in front of the LSO performing this concerto, producing the most extraordinary sounds I have ever heard.

Now I’m going to be honest. I’m not a fan of contemporary music but when something so fascinating and compelling occurs that you wonder at the unique, almost alien sounds that can emanate from one compact instrument, the performance becomes a piece of Art, more than music. I marveled at the sheer oddness of it all and the audience too was transfixed. Draugsvoll is a terrific musical showman without being over the top.

I was terrified and intrigued by this piece and thrilled that it was placed between Prokofiev and Tchaikovsky, otherwise I never would have experienced such a bewitching piece of music. So bravo to the Barbican, happy birthday Sofia Gubaidulina, and till we meet again dear Gergiev.  
Spear's WMS, November 2011


Crushed chords droop or judder; mud seems to squelch; fog spreads; a singing bird flies high. These were just a few of the sounds forged through Gubaidulina's extraordinary adventurous ear and the dexterity and iron control of the brilliant Norwegian player Geir Draugsvoll. During the British premiere the orchestra, too --- the London Symphony Orchestra with Valery Gergiev conducting --- did nothing dainty or folksy. They acted as Draugsvoll's mirror image; settled into subterranean dialogue, growl for growl; or attacked the bayan with bells and gong. All very remarkable.

The Times, 28.11.2011


There’s something profoundly spiritual here; the tone shifts between an awed naivety and a cleansed wisdom which brought me, a definite atheist, closer to an understanding of what an intensely religious experience must be like. Geir Draugsvoll’s playing never dipped in concentration...


The Norwegian soloist Geir Draugsvoll clearly relished the bayan’s strange hoarse wheeziness, the way it can make a huge, shuddering sound emerge suddenly from nothing, or (as at the very beginning of the piece) a procession of deep, reedy chords float in stillness like an organ. To hear those set against a delicate tracery of upward swoops on violins and marimba was magical indeed.

The Telegraph, 25.11.2011

In Frankfurt;

Den Solopart gestaltete der superbe norwegische Akkordeonist Geir Draugsvoll verhalten virtuos, klangvoll und - dem Instrument entsprechend - gestenreich. Die Musik der tatarisch-russischen Komponistin fasziniert durch ihre subtile Klanglichkeit und Schönheit, die sich gleich zu Beginn durch den Kontrast von konsonanten Harmonien des Bajan im Wechsel mit Glissandi des Orchesters vermittelte. Das Publikum zeigte sich zu Recht beeindruckt.

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 25.11.2011


Der aus Norwegen stammende Geir Draugsvoll vermittelte die weit gefächerten dynamischen, klangfarblichen und gestischen Möglichkeiten seines Instruments äußerst differenziert.

Frankfurter Neue Presse, 25.11.2011

In Luxembourg;

Das Bajan wurde höchst virtuos und effektvoll bedient, unterstützt durch dezente elektrische Verstärkung. Dunkle Farben herrschten zuerst vor, Glissandi errichteten Klangtürme. Effektvolle Verzahnungen einzelner Klangelemente führten spannungsvoll zu Solo-Kadenzen, in denen von Choral bis Atonal die Möglichkeiten des Instrumentes ausgereizt wurden.

Saarbrücker Zeitung, 23.11.2011

About the Norwegian Premiere and cd release concert with Trondheim Symphony Orchestra:

“Masterfully by Draugsvoll”

Geir Draugsvoll's passionate musicianship is delightful. Technical complete with a sonority that really enforces goosebumps. It's not every day you hear a bayan concerto, but what an instrument!

Adressavisa, 10.10.2011

About the Spanish Premiere with Trondheim Soloists:

“Exceptional Gubaidulina in Alicante (and Naxos)”

For the occasion, Alicante had the invaluable presence of the Trondheim Soloists and Geir Draugsvoll as soloist in a memorable performance. The Norwegian overwhelmed the audience, which witnessed most of the bayan's squeezing potential in a virtuosic exercise - almost extraterrestrial. But above all Draugsvoll conquered by his expressive mastodon force, reserved for truly extraordinary performers.

I highly recommend this album, although contemporary music is not a part of Naxos' musical "diet", it is impossible to neglect geniality of this calibre.

Forumclasico - 2011


About the Swedish Premiere with Camerata Nordica:

The accordion solo, which sometimes gives the feeling of being in a mighty Cathedral with an organ sound, has the tone of a thin sharp wire that cuts through, steps forward and keeps it all together. Exquisitely beautiful meditative sections are interrupted, and the room is transformed to the experience of a junction of cacophony. Geir Draugsvoll on the bayan, takes the listener into a stunning creational process of sounds and effects . Energy and power , breathtakingly beautiful and adventurous. Geir Draugsvoll ended with an encore, a waltz by Piazzolla. The effect of this soft, emotional music after Gubaidulinas powerful work were poignant, pure magic.

Ôstran, 10.2011

About the German Premiere with Kammerakademie Potsdam:

Fachwerk is based on conventional harmonies, and sounds -  with agitated string tremolo and viscous Russian orchestral sound - like the soundtrack of a Hitchcock film… The bayan sounded like a mixture of harmonium, organ and harmonica, and integrated surprisingly harmoniously into the orchestral sound. Geir Draugsvoll showed extraordinarily brilliant virtuosity on the Bayan.

Märkische Allgemeine, 19.09.2011

About the Recording:

The single movement 37 minute span suggests a mercurial and lapidary fairy tale. The music is accessible enough with rumbling, cajoling, howling, ululating and balladeering from both bayan and orchestra. It's a virtuoso display in the manner of The Firebird - the latest manifestation of the Russian folktale. The music glitters and rings.

Draugsvoll - a pupil of Mogens Ellegaard - proves himself a most subtly facetted artist whose collaborations with composers of the stature of Gubaidulina have yielded rewards for both himself and the composers. Gubaidulina's two works for bayan prove much more than curiosities.

Musicweb International - 2011

Read more:

These are very attentively performed pieces, Geir Draugsvoll’s bayan blending subtly with the violin and cello.

Gramophone, December 2011

one can only marvel at the music…and virtuosity of the performers. Stimulating listening indeed, and the Naxos audio is state-of-the-art., November 2011

Die Zeit, December 2011

“Wahre Musik hat die Struktur der göttlichen Schöpfung”, sagte die wohl bedeutendste lebende Komponistin Sofia Gubaidulina dem Ensemble-Magazin für Kammermusik anlässlich ihres 80. Geburtstages am 24. Oktober. Hört man diese phänomenale CD, dann spürt man, was damit gemeint ist. Gubaidulina adelt das russische Volksinstrument Bayan (eine Art Akkordeon) zum klassischen Klangkörper und entlockt ihm Harmonien von transzendenter Schönheit. © 2011 Die Zeit