Guyvoronsky and Petrova

Chonyi Together
Leo / CDLR268

Vyacheslav Guyvoronsky / trumpet, Evelin Petrova / accordion, vocal

Guyvoronsky opens this CD like he’s about to be in big trouble if he doesn’t prove he’s a virtuoso right now. The level of control he exerts over the trumpet while pushing it through the most punishing of workouts is astonishing, and the musicality of the result – a few histrionics, but mostly a beautifully vocal performance – is enough to sit you down and make you listen, whether you’ve heard of him or, like most listeners in the UK, not. The rest of the disk reveals something quite unique.

Guyvoronsky makes extensive use of composition, and while he’s influenced by classical Modernism there’s a very much stronger Latin American feel to most of the pieces here. Perhaps it’s just the accordion, but the duo did make their debut appearance at the Astor Piazzola competition in Italy just six months ago, where they won a prize. These pieces sound like Piazzola in the hands of someone with none of his connections with tradition; these are tangos and waltzes which have been disassembled and joyfully reconstructed without regard for what is proper, only what is right.

Petrova’s technical mastery, and her evident instinct for improvisation (this is her first improv gig, unlikely as that may sound) guide her through this music, but it’s her sense of harmony which impresses, her ability to construct beautifully logical chord sequences on the fly without compromising Guyvoronsky’s freedom to move. Her sound is ravishing, mostly avoiding the reediness associated with the accordion in favour of a timbre often reminiscent of a wind band. Her instincts when improvising are rarely wrong, and Guyvoronsky’s writing for her is superb.

The trumpet player himself is both an original and a fine technician. He’s poised, thoughtful and penetrating, always on top of his game and always finding something useful to say with even the most abstract material. Sometimes his straight playing can be deliberately awkward, following the most dazzling runs with something really quite lumpen, but that’s part of his technique; constant juxtaposition and variation of approach (noises, notes, runs, shouting) over short periods, constant adherence to a single theme or idea for long periods. It’s an unusual approach, and it takes a short time to get to grips with it, but it’s worth the effort.

Strange that they should entitle the disk “Chonyi Together”. Chonyi being the state of the Buddhist soul after death, wandering aimlessly in the universe in search of its place there (or something; so it says in the sleeve notes), one can only assume that these two musicians see themselves in some analogous way when they play together. Yet this music sounds too careful, too calculated in its effects, to come from a searching approach. No, this is masterfully prepared and performed, it’s utterly deliberate in its effects, and it achieves them with brilliance and joie de vivre. Richard Cochrane