At first blush, Richard Galliano's performance of Antonio Vivaldi's Four Seasons may seem to be a novelty recording, but to describe it that way would be a disservice to his extraordinary virtuosity and impressive comprehension of the music.
The accordion may not be to everyone's liking, as its status in both popular and classical music has always been subject to taste, but no one could seriously question this French accordionist's prodigious abilities with the instrument, which he treats as nimbly and as expressively as a violin.
Of course, choosing Vivaldi's greatest hit as a vehicle is a pretty safe bet to attract a new audience, and Galliano seems to relish the opportunity to make this perennial favorite a part of the accordion's repertoire.
This is Galliano's second album of classical music on Deutsche Grammophon, following his 2010 Bach album, and while he is perhaps better known for his recordings of jazz standards and film themes, most notably on his 2011 CD of the music of Nino Rota, his affection for Baroque masterpieces is sincere and it shows in his meticulous playing.
But as attractive as these pieces are, most listeners will return again and again to hear the Four Seasons, which is a tour de force for the instrument.