The Free-Reed Review
Critiques of Compact Discs, Books and Music Scores

CD Review: The Well-Tampered Accordion
Guy Klucevsek - Accordionist

Total Time: 57:07
Label: Winter & Winter
Released: 2005
Review Date: January 2005

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Four Portraits:
  1. Clarissa (Mrs. Dalloway)
  2. Blues for Richard
  3. Laura (Mrs. Brown)
  4. Virginia (Mrs. Woolf)
Accordion Misdemeanors
  1. Sicilians in New Orleans
  2. Acadians in Maine
  3. Germans in the Midwest
  4. Acadians in Louisiana
  5. Mexicans in Texas
  6. Lament for the Accordion Maker
  7. Basques in Montana
  8. Poles in Chicago
  9. Epilogue (Road Music)
  10. One Less Bell to Answer [Burt Bacharach, Arr. G. Klucevsek]
  11. 15. Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My (Wives and Lovers) Head
    [Burt Bacharach, Arr. G. Klucevsek]
The Well-Tampered Accordion
  1. No. 1: Shape-Shifter
  2. No. 2: Ebony Mandolin
  3. No. 3: Rocking the Boat
  4. No. 4: Collapsible Hornpipe
  5. No. 5: Time Passing
  6. No. 6: Hungarian Hummingbird
  7. No. 7: Sunday Morning - Eight Legs
    (after Lucien Freud)
  8. No. 8: AOK Chorale
  9. No. 9: Pink Elephant
  10. No. 10: Song of the Little Prince
    (for Teiji Ito)
  11. No. 11: Dance!
  12. No. 12: Epilogue/Fantasy
    (in memoriam Brian Rehr)
Compositions by Guy Klucevsek, except Titles 14, 15

Review by: Henry Doktorski

Guy Klucevsek, perhaps the most prolific accordionist composer and performer in the United States today, delights in sharing his art (and humor) with others, and for this I am grateful. His most recent release, "The Well-Tampered Accordion," displays the range of his multifarious moods, from the seriously introspective and impressionistic "Four Portraits" to the light-hearted folk-inspired "Accordion Misdemeanors" suite based on Annie Proulx's novel "Accordion Crimes."

"Four Portraits" is a musical interpretation of a literary masterpiece of American fiction. Michael Cunningham's "The Hours" inspired this suite of musical musings on the four main characters in Cunningham's acclaimed novel (and film). Commissioned for the 2003 La Milanesiana festival, the work was premiered on a shared program with Cunningham reading excerpts from the book.

"Accordion Misdemeanors," a folk-inspired suite, was written as a series of short pieces for the audio book version of Annie Proulx's novel "Accordion Crimes". The plot evolves by following an accordion on its travels across America, as it finds itself passed from one immigrant community to another. Guy Klucevsek is no stranger to ethnic music, having grown up in an Eastern European immigrant community in Pennsylvania's coal-mining country, who'd spent years playing and studying accordion musics from around the world. Klucevsek created a nine-part suite, creating a musical journey through the Sicilian community of New Orleans, the Basques in Montana, the Germans in the Midwest, and the Acadians of Maine, etc.

"One Less Bell to Answer" is a high-frequency meditative study on the solo piccolo reeds, and features one of the less-frequently-heard sounds of the accordion: its highest set of reeds.

Previously Klucevsek has exhibited his sense of humor in the titles of his works, such as "Eleven Large Lobsters Loose In the Lobby" and "Bustin' Broncos in the Balkans." The title of his "The Well-Tampered Accordion" seems to imply that the work was somehow inspired by the famous "Well Tempered Clavier" by J.S. Bach, a set of diadactic keyboard pieces in every major and minor key composed to fully exploit the newly-fashionable equal tempered tuning of his day. Despite its humorous title, "The Well-Tampered Accordion" is a serious work of twelve short pieces written in Klucevsek's own style, and I do think it would be a welcome study for accordion students, just as Bach's "Well Tempered Clavier" is an important study for students of the piano and harpsichord.

I highly recommend this CD for all classical and folk accordion lovers, as both genres are represented, in Guy Klucevsek's own unique style. The sound quality is excellent.

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