The Free-Reed Review
Critiques of Compact Discs, Books and Music Scores
CD Review: Robert Davine (with the Lamont Chamber Players)
Concert Accordion Artistry
Total Time: 61:28
Label: Crystal Records (CD160)
Review by Henry Doktorski:
A CD like this comes along once a decade; an anthology featuring original solo and chamber works for stradella accordion. To the author's knowledge, the last time an album like this appeared was in 1984 with the release of "William Schimmel - Accordion Revisited" on Finnadar Records. Davine's CD is a re-issue of a 1979 Crystal LP with the addition of two new pieces to take advantage of the increased length of compact discs.
The concert accordion artistry of Robert Davine should dispel in anyone's mind the illusion that only the free-bass accordion has a future in contemporary music. The pieces on the album are all gems for the stradella accordion; ranging in mood from the dark despondency of David Diamond's "Night Music" to the exuberant hilarity of Matyas Seiber's "Introduction and Allegro."
Robert Davine is professor of accordion and theory for the Lamont School of Music at the University of Denver. He has performed as soloist with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, the Denver Symphony, The Denver Chamber Orchestra, the Mantovani Orchestra, the Flagstaff (Arizona) Festival Orchestra, the Lake Superior (Michigan) Chamber Orchestra, the Norwegian Broadcasting Company and the Aspen Music Festival Chamber Ensemble.
Davine is a master of the classical accordion; his performances are superb: sensitive and graceful at times, brash and powerful at other times, as demanded by the composers. His recordings with the Lamont Chamber Players are especially significant contributions to the discography of the accordion. Ted Zarlengo's "Suite for Accordion, Cello & Piano" in five movements is accessible (modal harmonies) and very pleasant to listen to.
On the other hand, Carmelo Pino's three-movement "Concertino" for accordion & strings (here performed by the Lamont String Quintet) is a serious work and demands more-than-casual attention from the listener. The thematic material from the first few measures is developed throughout the piece; sometimes jagged and contrapuntal, sometimes lyrical and nostalgic. Concertino was performed by the composer (also a fine accordionist) during four concerts in March 1996 with the Washington Chamber Symphony at the Kennedy Center.
Seiber's "Introduction and Allegro" for accordion and cello is a glittering showpiece which functions as a brilliant encore for the album.
I have only one or two criticisms: sometimes in the "p" sections in "Night Music" the accordion overpowers the strings; in the score both parts are marked "p." It sounded to me like the accordion was miked separately and then mixed with the quartet; the author would have preferred a more natural sound. However, the balance in the rest of the album is excellent.
In addition, the fast passages are not always as clear as they should be; the playing is sometimes rushed, or sloppy. Another question: why doesn't the performer play triplets in Creston's score as the composer wrote?
Despite these minor complaints, I recommend this album for all lovers of classical accordion music.
|About The Free-Reed Review|
|Back to The Free-Reed Review Contents
to The Classical Free-Reed, Inc. Home Page