About The Free-Reed Review

If I would walk into almost any record store and ask the clerk to see their CDs which feature the accordion and other free-reed instruments, the response would be predictable. I would most likely receive a blank stare — and then only if the employee was polite. With a little luck I might be directed to the polka or to the tango section if the employee was knowledgeable.

Yet the polka and tango are only two of the many musical styles which prominently feature the free-reed instruments. Although there are dozens and dozens of superb accordion and bandoneon recordings in many diverse genres such as: jazz, classical, avant garde, as well as many types of folk music, the instrument has not yet infiltrated the mainstream music marketplace; it remains a niche item generally purchased only by free-reed aficionados.

Due to the tiny market for their products, major record labels are not eager to release recordings by free-reed performers. Instead, performers have to rely on independent local labels or sometimes they even have to produce, manufacture and distribute their CDs themselves. Therefore, free-reed CDs are difficult, if not impossible to find, for in most cases they are distributed outside the standard commercial music industry outlets.

This project began in January 1996 when I first entered the realm of cyberspace and hooked up to the internet. Within a few days, due to my accordion interests, I subscribed to the newsgroup for accordionists: rec.music.makers.squeezebox, and discovered a whole new world of accordion, concertina and bandoneon players from the USA, Canada, Finland, Sweden, Germany, England, Ireland, New Zealand, Australia, Argentina, China and other nations.

A few weeks later, my friend Michel Laverdiere — artistic director for ATMA Records (a small classical label in Montreal) — sent me a new CD he had just released entitled Marin Nasturica: Accordion Virtuoso and suggested that I write a review on the internet. I did and my weekly column The Free-Reed Review was born.

The endeavor was incredibly successful; soon I began receiving review copies of CDs in my mailbox from around the globe and within a short time a tall stack of CDs stood on my desk. I have been plowing through the stack one per week ever since and I keep getting new releases to review!

It is my sincere hope that The Free-Reed Review will benefit free-reed performers, their record labels and the customers who wish to purchase their products.


Henry Doktorski
Founder of The Classical Free-Reed, Inc.

P.S. Please be it known that musical criticism, although supposedly based on some kind of objective artistic "standard," is more often than not simply a reflection of the personal tastes and biases of the reviewer. Although the writers on The Free-Reed Review editorial board have tried their best to write these reviews as fairly as possible, The Classical Free-Reed, Inc. does not claim that their viewpoints are the only authentic perspective and acknowledges that others may have completely different and equally valid opinions.

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