Pere Romaní’s Harmònic

cover art for HarmònicPere Romaní is a Barcelona based musician and composer who plays melodeon in a variety of styles in several different ensembles and settings. He’s studied music for most of his 40 years, singing, playing piano and many other instruments including mandolin, percussion, and the wooden flute called the flabiol. But when he started playing folk music on the diatonic accordion, things really clicked for him and his education and career took off.

Romaní is a music teacher and holds a degree in ethnomusicology. He plays melodeon in concert, dance and recording settings with bands called 21 BOuTONS and Ratafia as well as with the trio Romaní. He has an extensive recording catalog as leader of these groups and as a member of others’ ensembles and projects. Harmònic is his first recording with Romaní, and it’s also in part his first solo recording.

Trio Romaní is Pere Romaní on melodeon, Héctor Beberide on plucked strings (guitar, mandolin, mandola), and Joan Tomàs on double bass. Marc Vall helps out with percussion on some of the tunes. They’ve been playing together since the 2019 Folk Festival in Marsinne, Belgium. Since then, they have played for balls, concerts and workshops in Catalonia and Occitania, and often they work together with dance experts Joan Codina and Anna Romaní.

The 12 tracks on Harmònic are split between solo tunes and those with the trio. They’re all pretty much dance tunes of one kind or another. And really, just listening to this album makes me miss folk dancing! It kicks off with a lively march with Vall on martial snares and Romaní otherwise solo – I’m not up on what kind of dance you’d do to this kind of tuneful march, but I bet some Scandinavian culture has something, right?

We first meet the rest of the trio on the next track, which presents a pair of bouncy schottishes (delightfully spelled “xotis” in Spanish), with Beberide and Tomás keeping the rhythm on mandolin and bass – and Beberide takes a nice mando solo. There’s a second schottishe track a little farther along with just melodeon and percussion. Its title is “Xot … no!!!” and there’s a middle section that departs from the traditional schottishe for a bit of Caribbean rhythm.

Still up for dancing? There are a some nice waltzes, “Ball pla i corranda de Marsinne” and the lovely bal musette style “La Barraqueta,” as well as the closer “Vals feliç,” which is a fast one with the whole trio and some tricky rhythmic figures, as well as mandolin and bass solos. Tomás’s bass solo is short but very sweet! “Tot té Remei” is in waltz time but has a circus or carnival feel to it. The full ensemble plays on this one too, and it sounds almost like Beberide is playing a vihuela. For variety there’s the Celtic jig “Blanc,” the solo Romaní performance of “Igualada,” in a swinging five-beat rhythm. Most intriguing is the very folksy “Arin-arin a l’Iker,” which I’m guessing has Basque origins. It has a polka-like feel to it but Vall adds lots of different colors and feelings to it with percussion that variously rattles, thuds and clops.

The music on Harmònic is entirely devoid of irony but it’s not without humor. The sound and feel of the whole record is remarkably consistent whether it’s a trio or solo piece, so kudos to the recording, mixing and mastering crew. Recommended to anyone who likes folk dance music and especially accordion.

(Microscopi, 2022)

Simultaneously with the CD release, Pere Romaní is releasing 36 composicions, a self-published songbook of all of his accordion compositions, 1999-2021, and videos of the tunes available free on YouTube. More information on his website.

Gary Whitehouse

Gary has been reviewing music, books and more at the Green Man Review since sometime in the previous Millennium. He lives in a mostly hipster-free part of Oregon, where he enjoys dogs, books, music, the outdoors, and craft beer, cider, and coffee.

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