Cello and accordion in one song. Interview with Ksenija Sidorova

Cello and accordion in one song. Interview with Ksenija Sidorova
Kaspars Garda, Rīga 2014 . Accordionist Ksenija Sidorova
Una Griškeviča
03-06-2013 A+ A-
The annual Riga Festival is open from 3 June for the third time. Accordionist Ksenija Sidorova will perform at the festival in 17 and 19 June. The musician has achieved a successful career around Europe in quite a short time. Sidorova told about her other summer plans, too, in conversation with culture portal „Rīga 2014”.

You are gonna play together with cellist Guna Āboliņa again. This is not the firs time you two perform together, I suppose.

It’ s hard to tell about how many times we have played together. But I know this will be the third time. We perform together with Guna since Cesis Art Festival. Back then we played „Seven words” by Sofija Gubaiduļina together with conductor Normunds Šnē and „Sinfonietta Rīga”.

Will you offer the same programme for concerts in Riga?

It will be something completely different from that.(Smiling.) This will be almost the whole programme we did in Cesis. Not everyone who wished to hear it had the option. Still, Riga is quite far from Cesis, and the seats were limited, too. But now they will be able to hear our intimate concert programme. Besides, a way to perform in one more concert is found. So many others will hear our programme. This is really great, considering the fact that Spikeri concert hall(Spīķeru koncertzāle) is not, let’ s say, Carnegie Hall in London.(Laughing.)


Besides, people are interested not only in accordian play, but also in the music itself that we are performing in the concerts. We will use transcriptions, too, so it is a great way how to show the connection between cello and accordion.

The sound of both cello and accordion is quite alike, after all, because you can hold an extended lenght of music.

Legendary cellist Mstislavs Rostropovičs once said that all cellists, who wish to broaden their world of instrument sound, should play with accordionist at least once in a lifetime. And he was right.

Obviously, he has told this from his own experience.

Yes, he has had a chance..it was The Soviet Union when philharmonics still existed. Rostropovičs performed with his colleagues at those small culture houses anywhere in the country, so working people would get an entertainment after a hard day’ s work. He once had to play in the concert, but there were no stage and piano. Composer Jans Frenkels then said: don’ t worry, I will join you with my accordion. Then a local guy came to them after this concert, put his hand on cello strings and said: brother, I would like to hear something casual now! (Laughing.) Anyway, Rostropovičs had already discovered a brand new world of sounds for himself.

Speaking of our duet, I have already played with cello when studying in Royal Academy in Music, London. I have performed with the string quartet. To be honest, cello is my favourite instrument, so I see myself with it, too.


Maybe you could learn how to play cello.

No, I would not dare. (Smiling.) Let’ s keep this to those who play cello perfectly well, much better than I could. I feel good with accordion and I’ m fine with it. When performing together with cello, I can open new possibilities in order to enjoy the sound. This is what Guna and I would like to show to other people.

I know that you have performed with guitarist Milošs Karadagličs from Montenegro. Will we se this duet in Latvia, too?

Well, it’ s not the same. The style of those compositions is completely different. I have performed with Milošs for years. We have a great duet – he does not perform with other accordionists, nor do I. We are friends who perform together from the times of Music Academy. He has gained such a great career now! Still, we played together at the Royal Albert Hall in April. The programme contains a lot of Latin American music. We also have several plans for 2014. I cannot tell for now if concerts in Latvia are planned.


What about you playing in Riga Festival?

The programme will overview different ages: Sensanss, Rahmaņinovs, Arvo Perts. And, of course, Astors Pjacolla.

Will you play „Libertango”?

No, no! We included „Le Grand Tango”. That is one of Pjacolla’ s best known compositions. Besides, it’ s written for piano, not for accordion. Nevertheless, his music can be well shifted to accordion, those two instruments together with bandoneon come from one „family”.

People often say that Pjacolla is accordionist, but, in fact, bandoneon is his instrument.

Well, it’ s just a little remark.(Smiling.) Oh, also compositions of Manuels de Falja will be performed in the festival.



You have played in London, Riga and elsewhere. Where is the best audience?

It depends on your feelings and the energy that circulates between you and the audience, I think. Therefore, I cannot tell about the best audience. Still, our listeners are well educated, they usually know the programme, though we often play hits. This means a big responsibility for us, because all compositions are really well-known.(Thinking.). The audience is very open to us, even British people who often react calmly. I have even seen in the concerts that listeners sitting in the first row are quite reserved. But in the end, they come to performers and thank for the great concert! Listeners in USA even stood up after the first composition. 

You will delight the audience also in Festival of the Arts in Cesis.

Yes, I will perform in Cesis on 29 June together with „Sinfonietta Rīga”, playing Pjacolla’ s Concerto for bandoneon and chamber orchestra „Aconcagua”. Besides, it is the best time to celebrate the release of my second album „Fairy Tales”. The official release date is 1 July. But I decided to present the material at home for the first time if I get this unique chance. You just have to plan your daily routine well, that’ s it. (Smiling.)

Next year, Riga will become a European Capital of Culture. Will you have concerts during that time?

Yes, I am honored that „Rīga 2014” invited me to take part in the concert  "Born in Riga”. It will be held next summer next to the Opera. I am born in Riga, my career started here, so this concert will be very special to me. Back then, I played everywhere I got the chance –  in museums, at the concert hall „Ave Sol” and other places. Then all those big events came at Ģilde (the Guild) and Spīķeri concert hall.

Now I am proud to be on the same stage with such musicians as Maija Kovaļevska, Gidons Krēmers, Aleksandrs Antoņenko.

I looked at the participants list for the concert when I realised – Latvia is such a small place, but, in spite of that, we have so many great, world-known artists! Everywhere I go and tell others that I come from Latvia – they ask me if I know my fellow Latvians. And my answer is – yes! I hope to see them in concerts in the nearest future. Overall, I am proud that we can represent Latvia with an excellent, great music around the world.


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