Rock Bach CD Review: The Wholenote

03_Double_DoubleRock Bach: Double-Double Duo

Think and listen before you make any assumptions about the musical combination of accordion and clarinet. Double-Double Duo is more than a sweet sugary sound. The imaginative musical mastery, unorthodox arrangements/transcriptions and tight ensemble playing of accordionist/pianist Michael Bridge and clarinettist/pianist Kornel Wolak stretches boundaries in both the acoustic and electronic realms in this release featuring works from their live concert repertoire.

The Brahms Rondo alla Zingarese is a more traditional transcription and exciting performance. In contrast, the four Scarlatti keyboard sonatas are given an eclectic transcription with the clarinet leading the contrapuntal lines and the free bass accordion offering harmonic and contrapuntal support. The title track Rock Bach is a musical stretch as J.S. Bach’s baroque style is shoved into modern-day sound machinations, complete with drum-kit crashes from the Roland electronic accordion. One may wonder what happened to the accordion in Petit Fleur (Bechet) and Flying Home (Goodman), as a flip of a switch and press of a button have Bridge’s Roland accordion emulate guitars, drums, keyboards etc. while Wolak wails through his clarinet leads. A traditional Bulgarian piece and Vivaldi’s Summer complete the package.

Kudos for taking risks with listener favourites – one may not like the sound but there is so much care, energy, compassion and knowledge of divergent styles that their ideas must be respected. Detailed liner notes and more than the 35 minutes of music included here would be appreciated though. Looking forward to the next “refill” release!


Barrie Concerts Review: “Duo the cream of the crop”

Steven Fielder, Barrie Examiner (Oct. 2015)

“…The first Barrie Concert of the 2015 season — the Double Double Duo on Saturday — turned all these pre- and misconceptions of both the compositions of classical composers and their 21st-century classical music performers on their ears. The entire evening was, quite simply, superbly professional, relaxed and fun.

This first concert of the Barrie Concerts series played to a packed house at what is arguably the best concert venue in Barrie, Hi-Way Pentecostal Church, and it was an incredible evening. It was billed as a “Double Double Duo, from Bach to Benny” featuring music from Bach to the present, and featuring accordionist Michael Bridge and clarinetist Kornel Wolak.

Accordion? Read on, and join the 21st century.

The duo presented a wonderful evening of music (either their own transcriptions or on-the-spot improvisations) from the music of Bach, Scarlatti, Tchaikovsky, Paganini, Bechet, Balkan folk tunes, Brahms, Benny Goodman, de Abreu, Rossini and Acker Bilk.
And their performances were fresh, exciting and fun, dispelling any of the old preconceptions about classical music being stuffy and outdated. This duo brought every composition from the past to 21st century to life. It was a great evening.

The performances by Michael Bridge on the Roland digital accordion throughout were exciting, superbly performed, and perhaps his solo performance of the 1812 Overture (Tchaikovsky), complete with bells and cannon (yes, from his accordion) was the most eye-opening of what this new instrument could do.

It’s one thing to have 21st-century technology available in the instrument, but it’s quite another to have an extremely talented young musician like Mr. Bridge to make use of technology and to explore it’s possibilities for the future. Did I happen to mention he was just having fun in his performances?

Clarinetist Kornel Wolak was superb, and showed why he is one of the best clarinetists of our time. His duo and solo performances were exciting, subtle and so sensitive, his improvisations were exquisite. He is a brilliant performer.

This Double-Double Duo was the best of new, young “classical” musicians opening the windows to fresh air and bringing their own style of intellect, expertise, talent and just plain fun to a new 21st century audience.

The audience at this concert enjoyed every minute. A great start to the Barrie Concerts series.”