Accordion oomph

Published November 2, 2017
Christopher Haritzer and Paul Schuberth perform at Napa on Tuesday.—White Star
Christopher Haritzer and Paul Schuberth perform at Napa on Tuesday.—White Star

KARACHI: It was such a delight to listen to the wondrous sound of the accordion, accompanied by the heart-warming clarinet, at a special musical evening organised at the National Academy of Performing Arts (Napa) on Tuesday. The Aust­rian duo of Christopher Haritzer (clarinet) and Paul Schub­erth (accordion) entertained music lovers for an hour or so with their unusual brand of instrumental oeuvre.

It was obvious from the get-go that the musicians were inspired by a variety of genres of music, and to express those influences with just two instruments was quite a feat. According to Paul, the first song was a traditional track. To be honest, in terms of experimentation, it sounded as contemporary a tune as it can get.

The accordion created an eerie ambience by gradually increasing its sound, enabling the audience to understand that the musicians were not merely playing music; they were trying to help them embark on a journey. They increased the tempo of the track effortlessly, largely due to the free-flowing notes of the clarinet. The combination worked well and impressed all those who had packed the Napa hall to listen to them.

The next composition was a love song. Christopher, who also entertained the audience with his sharp wit and presence of mind, said it was about the downside of love. Sure it was. An interesting moment during the show came when one of the microphone stands fell, but Christopher covered the tiny distraction nicely: he kept playing the tune, stood the mic up and then, rather funnily, grunted into the microphone … as if it was all part of the act.

The third piece was no less startling when the two musicians played a composition which had a tremendous rhythm, despite the fact that they didn’t have any percussionist on stage. It also had a mirthful jazzy feel to it, with the clarinet, in a manner of speaking, upstaging the accordion. Actually, the two instruments fed off each other.

The mood of the show shifted a wee bit when Paul and Christopher turned to Austrian folk music. It had a different vibe to it, and one could sense the bucolic touch that folk music carries in its melodies.

Earlier, Napa’s tabla player Ustad Bashir Khan and sarangi-nawaz Akhtar Husain gave a delightful performance in the teental beat cycle. The ustad looked in prime form. He was followed by Ustad Salamat Husain who played a thumri in raga peelu on the flute. 

Published in Dawn, November 2nd, 2017

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