PAGODA PROJECT Clarion (Sylvafield SYLVA001)

PAGODA PROJECT ClarionPaul Hutchinson is a man who frequently confuses the piano-accordion with a musical instrument. No, that isn’t a joke or a dig – if you’ve heard him play you’ll know what I mean. He plays so well that with Balshazzar’s Feast he can play badly without missing a note, take a tune off somewhere else before you’ve noticed what he’s doing and crack the audience and his musical partner up mercilessly. Karen Wimhurst is a clarinettist and composer who works in opera, theatre, jazz and folk with a huge body of work to her credit.

After a short introductory solo by Karen, the majority of the tracks are written by Paul although Karen gets the final word with ‘Wish List’. One of two of his compositions might have found a home with Belshazzar’s and ‘Lichfield Gamble’ might suit Hoover The Dog but these tunes frequently stray into Karen’s sphere of influence. ‘Bouzurka Waltz’ is a charming pastoral piece that claims to be a 3/2 hornpipe and ‘Shelley’s Waltz’ has something of a middle-European feel. In complete contrast ‘Irwins’, dedicated to Colin of that ilk, begins as a folky melody but expands into something wild and jazzy when Karen gets her hands on it.

Paul restricts his humour to titles although ‘It Takes Three To Tango’ is a bit weird but if the idea of accordion and clarinet duets makes your blood run cold, fear not. Clarion is very satisfying listening.

Dai Jeffries

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