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Public Reviews

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!

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

The North American Premiere of Fachwerk - Berkeley Symphony

“Mr. Draugsvoll demonstrated mastery at various points: when playing trills, in the anguished extended solo passages, and while generating the terrifying spasms that conclude the piece before it fades..”
Wall Street Journal - December 2015

“The player for whom “Fachwerk” was composed is Geir Draugsvoll, a Norwegian virtuoso whose mastery was in evidence throughout the first half of Thursday’s performance in Zellerbach Hall. For some 35 minutes, Draugsvoll unleashed a volley of showmanlike effects, coaxing everything from rapid-fire scales and passagework to soulfully wheezing harmonies from his instrument.”
San Francisco Chronicle - December 2015

“Conveniently, the work is available in recording and partially in video, neither of which do visual justice to Draugsvoll’s consummate artistry, which earned a loud, standing ovation from Berkeley Symphony patrons.”
San Francisco Classical Voice - December 2015

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 get ill from 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, emotionaal music after Gubaidulinas powerful work were poignant, pure magic.
Östran, 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

Premiere of “Fachwerk” - Sofia Gubaidulina’s new bayan concerto, with Reinbert de Leeuw (conductor) and Amsterdam Sinfonietta - Concertgebouw, Amsterdam 14.11.2009;

Trouw, 16.11.2009

...Saturday night it was the Norwegian Geir Draugsvoll coming down the stairs of the Concertgebouw to perform the concerto from Gubaidulina, which the Amsterdam Sinfonietta had the privilege to premiere. The Tartarian composer has for many years had special feelings for this particular Russian instrument - the bayan. The bandoneon and bayan is as far apart from each other as Argentina and Siberia, and when a spiritual composer like Gubaidulina uses the instrument to all limits - the result is breathtaking.

Volkskrant, 16.11.2009

...The Scandinavian connections was kept intact; The Norwegian bayanvirtuoso Geir Draugsvoll performed Fachwerk together with Amsterdam Sinfonietta. A beautiful instrument, the bayan - the sound fills every nuance between devote singing and ordinary screaming. Since the first bajan-excursion 30 years ago, Gubaidulina has added a few characteristics. They returned in "Fachwerk", with shivering fever-vibratoes, decreasing whining and toneless panting. "Fachwerk" refers to the German 'Fachwerk'-style of building houses, with a wooden skeleton, showed in as well the construction as the sight. Translated in the music we hear increasing, decreasing and crossing lines, which connect with Gubaidulina's spiritual thinking, and the idea of a kosmos with an above, middle and downsection.

Other reviews

Premiere of “... ad Astrum” Concerto for bayan and orchestra by Anatolijus Senderovas, with Vasily Petrenko and The Netherlands Symphony Orchestra - Deventer 07.02.2008;

Review from “Tubantia” 09-02-2008 by Karel Masselink:

“Breathtaking soundexperience“

...a real virtuoso playing the solo-part: Geir Draugsvoll. For those who did not know him before, they shall not forget this evening easily, because of the very intense and beautiful playing.

A breathtaking experience, that was the character of the concerto for Bayan and ochestra from the Lithuanian composer Anatolius Senderovas.

Senderovas got carte-blanche when he accepted to write this piece for the city of Deventer, which he wrote in close cooperation with his friend Draugsvoll. The result is an expressive and almost tangible work with sharp musical contrasts, captivating dialogs between soloist and orchestra. There were remarkable combinations of sound color, long sounding gongs made an atmosphere of mystical oppression. A very exiting whole.

The concerto ends in an endless and toneless sigh. The virtuosity witch Draugsvoll showed seemed also endless.

Review from Deventer Stentor, 09-02-2008 by Henk Slik:

“Netherlands Symphony Orchestra very convincing with world première”

The accordion is no longer an instrument only for popular folk music, but a coming instrument on the concert stage, supported by composers like Gubaidulina and Piazzolla.

In presence of the composer we were fully aware of that fact yesterday when Geir Draugsvoll played the world première of the concerto ..ad Astrum. He really smashed the message of adversity into the direction of the stars.

About Sofia Gubaidulina's "7 Worte";

Draugsvoll performed on the accordion variant called Bajan, and its particularly remarkable dynamic potential is different from a plain monochrome sounding accordion. A whole spectrum of effects was magically presented in an overall presentation of a work, that is equally expressive and introvert.
Hallandsposten, Sweden - July 2011

About Sofia Gubaidulina's "De Profundis";

Geir Draugsvoll gave "De Profundis" an almost theatrical character with its full expression. The instrument was a part of himself, sometimes literally breathing with him.
HD, Sweden - July 2011

Review from the Kronberg Cello Festival - October 2007 by B. Roeder:

Geringas, selbst ein bedeutender Musiker hat sich verstärkt dem Dirigieren zugewendet. Er überraschte zwei Abende später mit seinem großen Tangogesang. Im Duett mit Geir Draugsvoll, Bajan interpretierte er „Hommage a Liege“. Das 1985 entstandene Kleinod der Kammermusik wurde eigens für das Duo Geringas/Draugsvoll umgearbeitet. Hier trafen sich zwei Musiker, die mit klangvollem Seelenschmerz und rhythmischer Leidenschaft Ovationen auslösten. Geir Draugsvoll ist ein Ausnahmekünstler, dessen tiefer rauer Ton-, Klangreichtum kongenial die subtil geformten Farbskalen, und die Piazzollaschen Lyrismen von David Geringas ergänzen. Das Publikum wusste, dass es ein Konzert erlebt hatte, das in dieser hochrangigen Qualität und tiefen musikalischen Intensität einzigartig war. Diesen künstlerischen Höhepunkt kann man jetzt auf zwei eindrucksvollen CDs nacherleben. Sie heißt „Sensations und ist bei Delos International DE 3349 erschienen.

Wer sich nicht satt hören kann, dem sei auch noch die Superscheibe „Quasi Improvisata“ ans Herz gelegt. Auf dieser CD mit zeitgenössischen Kompositionen brillieren wiederum David Geringas, Violoncello und Geir Draugsvoll, Bajan.

“All Hail the Accordion”


He demonstrated an intonation technique which goes beyond everything else which can be produced on acoustic instruments. Thoroughly made weavings and glissandos left the listener astonished of admiration and delight. ... It was a virtuosic performance on the highest artistic level.
Berlingske Tidende (Denmark)

“An Overcoming”
Hands up - and all hearts open!
The most fragile tones he can grow from silence or let die, as if he was a clarinetist or a string instrumentalist. The shortest tones length and value he can obviously vary endlessly, and the control with sound and dynamic gives every statement, every word, its own identity. A master of details. But important is also, that all the simplicity in the forms, are controlled by a strong musical instinct, so his music comes out with profile and in its entirety.
Information (Denmark)

“Breaking Boarders”
... he broke all boarders, both national and instrumental, in some fantastic performances... which brought the accordion up amongst the finest and most expressive classical instruments.
Berlingske Tidende (Denmark)

"a musician of poetry. He has a way of using total concentration to penetrate the music of silence. The music is set forth as if from a distant world, gentle and crisp, and takes on form, is brought to life, through lines constructed by way of the most subtle control over the weight and dynamics of every single note. He can make his instrument sing quietly with the music surrounded by a glow of its own. At the same time, the virtuosity of his playing is incredible; the music flows lightly across foundation pillars of rhythm and sound control, so much so that in the end everything falls assuredly into place. At times it is so brilliant that one loses one's breath."
Berlingske Tidende (Denmark)

It was not only touching, it was one of those rear moments when time stands still, and dissolves into music.
Dagbladet (Norway)

“Musical sensation”
Geir Draugsvoll is not a musician which has to mature to end up amongst the established musicians. His concert was shocking and sensational, because he broke down our prejudice towards the instrument, and also because the musical experience at times were shockingly good. ... Geir Draugsvoll could easily become more than “debutante of the year”, he could become a continuos sensation in the norwegian music life.
Drammens Tidende og Buskeruds Blad (Norway)

Auf alle Fälle aber weiß ich eines: Von diesen beiden Herren möchte ich sehr bald sehr viel mehr hören. Sie beleben den saturierten, oft selbstgefälligen und in lebloser Tradition versinkenden Konzertmarkt. Schon mit zwei Akkordeons, so gespielt, könnte er ein wenig über seinen langweiligen Schatten springen...
Salzburger Nachrichten (Austria)

"Best of all is Stravinsky's score, given an inspired rewrite for two accordions, and played brilliantly on stage by James Crabb and Geir Draugsvoll. By the end, when Petrushka lies dead on the snowy ground and they walk towards him, throwing their silhouettes on the back wall, they are the piece's true heroes."
The Independent (England)


The already big discography of works by Sofia Gubaidulina, is little by little filled with first rank performances. This CD from BIS - centered around Geir Draugsvoll’s accordion, should be marked with a milestone.
Repertoire (France)

Geir Draugsvoll’s virtuoso performances have to be heard to be believed.
American Record Guide (USA)

Geir Draugsvoll takes us on a chastening and never merely virtuosic tour of the accordion’s full potential...
Grammophone (England)

Accordionist Geir Draugsvoll -- a graduate of the Royal Danish Conservatory in 1992 -- is especially to be congratulated for his stunning performances on this album. I listened to De profundis and Et exspecto while following along with the score; his playing is masterful and true to the composer's intent.
The Classical Free Reed (USA)

Draugsvoll is a master musician. He breathes life into these difficult contemporary works and helps make these pieces more accessible to listeners.
The Classical Free Reed (USA)

Classical Accordion is a fortuitous fusion of talented artist, technical mastery and excellent instrument; this combination certainly evokes some musical magic on this recording.
The Classical Free Reed (USA)

Geir Draugsvoll plays with strength and verve, producing as convincing performances as we are likely to hear. His technical audacity is successful, and he seems to have a complete understanding of and identification with what he plays.

Crabb and Draugsvoll have you on the edge of your armchair with their dash and virtuosity, and fill your mind with fantasy and colour, compelling you to re-evaluate the instrument’s capacity as a serious concert medium.
Sunday Times (England)

All in all something of an artistic triumph. ... No doubt of the musicianship and virtuosity of the playing. The recording, too, is excellent.
Gramophone (England)

The most striking features of Crabb and Draugsvoll’s playing are their extraordinary unanimity of ensemble, and an ebullient rhythmicality and athleticism made possible by a phenomenal bellows technique...
This is a different and splendidly enjoyable disc.
Classic CD (England)

There are the makings of a cult hit somewhere here.
Independent on Sunday (England)

A disc which I am sure is destined to become something of a collector’s item...
Hi-Fi News (England)