Illustration: Laani Heinar
Reede, 22 Mai 2020 19:00
Estonian Life No. 20 2020 - Vincent Teetsov
The accordion is an instrument that ties together the musical traditions of many countries, not least Estonia. May 6th happened to be World Accordion Day, and to mark the occasion, accordionist and composer Tuulikki Bartosik put on a live show for everyone on Facebook, so we could enjoy music in the depths of nature from the comfort of home.
The video was set, as alluded to in the concert title, in a forest, with thick moss covering the forest floor. This verdant concert hall was sparsely arranged with two microphones and a bright red chair where Tuulikki sat and performed.
She brings many dimensions to her show for the audience to enjoy. There's always deep and telling expression in her face when she plays, which you may find yourself reflecting when you listen. It's all sincere and believable. Take a moment to close your eyes though, and imagine just where you are in the songs.
To balance the chords from the left hand side of her free-bass accordion, she implements energetic attack in the right hand, creating striking syncopation and explosive turns during moments of register changes and refrains. I couldn't help but let out an audible “wow” when Tuulikki warbled the notes with manual vibrato, presumably through the bellows of the accordion. This is an effect that would otherwise be produced by an effects pedal. It seems obvious to call her a virtuoso, as she is clearly a master of this instrument.
In her first song, there were stark tonal changes between gently sweeping, reed instrument evocative right hand flourishes, to growling chords and extra air pushed through the instrument, resembling the force of love and igatsus (longing).
Tuulikki is a one woman band, with the ability to connect to universal musical feelings. Her description on Instagram even starts in Japanese first, showing that mutual appreciation between Japanese and Nordic culture. In her forest concert, she featured her most recent album “Torm veeklassis” (“Tempest in a Teapot”), including a song that was delightfully performed live with Japanese accordionist Kanako Kato during Tuulikki's tour of Japan.
In between songs, she speaks in both Estonian and in English to briefly tell the stories of her songs, so listeners can imagine and adventure in their minds' eyes. Some songs pull us to the forests of Rõuge in Võrumaa, Tuulikki's home county, where she composes and records in the summer months.
For Tuulikki, however, spring is a special time of year to play music outside, because this is when the birds come out to listen. They've been known to tweet and sing along to the accordion. Or otherwise fly away. At one point, the camera tilts up to the treetops where they chitter chatter in response to her song. In the forest, you just need to observe.
The sea is also a source of inspiration for Tuulikki, as in her third song, about taking a long journey by boat and returning home. Tumbling melodies rise up and flow down like waves. When these melodies move more calmly, her voice sings in synchronicity with the accordion.
The live concert also has superb multi-camera perspective with panning shots that capture the swaying music sensitively, for thousands of viewers to enjoy. It was a pleasant pause in the day to bask in the warm, layered music.
Tuulikki's music can be found on Spotify and Apple Music, with CDs available for purchase on Amazon.Watch the live stream concert here.
You can see talented artists like Tuulikki Bartosik perform right here in Canada as part of Estonian Music Week, in prime venues and in collaboration with high quality Canadian artists. Follow @estonianmusicweek on Instagram
(or @EstonianMusicWeek on Facebook) to keep up to date on future shows.
Written by Vincent Teetsov