Initiated as early as 2008 by ECM Records founder and producer Manfred Eicher, the Jean-Louis Matinier and Marco Ambrosini duo introduces the rare encounter between the accordion, a modern free reed instrument that has been widely adopted by many folk and popular traditions around the world and the nyckelharpa, the keyed fiddle traditionally associated with Swedish folk music. Released on the ECM Record Label in May 2014 last, Inventio takes both instruments out of their original contexts to explore a wonderfully innovative new repertoire.

Jean-Louis Matinier & Marco Ambrosini - Inventio (2014)
Jean-Louis Matinier & Marco Ambrosini – Inventio (2014)

Born in France, Jean-Louis Matinier is a classically trained accordion player who turned to jazz early on in his career and is well known for his contribution to recent Anouar Brahem records such as Le Pas du Chat Noir or Le Voyage de Sahar. The musician has also recorded with Louis Sclavis and with François Couturier’s Tarkovsky Quartet.

Classically trained on the violin, Italian born musician Marco Ambrosini took up the nyckelharpa in the mid-1980s and started integrating the instrument to various Baroque ensembles such as the early music consort Oni Wytars he co-founded. Amongst others, Marco Ambrosini has recorded with Giovanna Pessi and Susanna Wallumrød and is a long-time collaborator of Norwegian Baroque guitarist and lutenist Rolf Lieslevand.

Using Baroque collections as a reference point, the pair adapts “Presto” and “Inventio N° 4”, two sonatas from JS Bach, the first “Rosary” sonata from Heinrich Biber as well as one piece from Pergolesi’s musical setting for “Stabat Mater”.

Bar one cover of a song by French accordionist André Astier, every other newly composed track prompts a fascinating sonic exploration of the harmonic, rhythmic and melodic possibilities offered by the association of both instruments, allowing for “a total dialogue” (Jean-Louis Matinier).

The nyckelharpa is both a keyed and a bowed instrument whose sound is very close to that of a viola da gamba. Associating the traditional instrument with the chromatic range and the free-bass system of the accordion allows for endless textural permutations and dynamic shifts as on Bach’s “Inventio N°4” which involves a total deconstruction of the piece rather than its faithful reproduction. The rhythm on “Tasteggiata” (hitting/pounding of the keys) on the other hand is derived from the percussive and clicking sounds of the buttons and keys on both instruments.

Adopting a musical historicist approach and using the Baroque genre and sound as a creative resource on Inventio, Jean-Louis Matinier and Marco Ambrosini have quietly “reinvented” a new repertoire for this unique instrumental combination which is equally informed by Scandinavian and Eastern European folk music or by the French musette style and contemporary jazz.