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CD Review: Silvia Pagni
Excelsior "Myths"

Silvia Pagni, accordion and MIDI accordion
Marco Periannunzi, piano
Alberto Sperduto, bass
Armen Erizian, percussion


Art Van Damme: Movin
Ernesto Lecuona: Malaguena
Sylvia Pagni: Petite
G. Gershwin: Polkadots Moon Beams
Principe: Concertino
Frosini: Sweepstake
S. Pagni and G. Pagni: Serenata Argentina
Deiro: Trieste Overture
Deiro: Argento Vivo
Principe: Concerto n1 in LA
Magnante: Waltz Allegro
Principe: Tema Da Concerto

total time: 61:52
release date: 1999
review date: February 2000

Label: Compagnia Electro Musicale Excelsior S.R.L.
60022 Castelfidardo (AN)Italy
Tel. 071/780982

Review by Robert Karl Berta

This CD was in effect a demo recording of the Excelsior accordion. On it you will hear a variety of music designed to illustrate the quality and features of their acoustic accordion and their MIDI accordion. Silvia Pagni is a very talented accordionist of formidable talent as illustrated here. While I did have a bit of a problem with the assortment of tunes it was well in keeping with the intent of the recording. I found an interesting assortment of tunes....ranging from jazz to some modern arrangements to several of the "standards" of the accordion repertoire by Magnante and Deiro. Also included were a couple of compositions by the performer that showed her very fine composing skills.

Among the tunes I particularly enjoyed were Van Damme's "Movin." I have met Art Van Damme several times (he lives near me) and am well acquainted with his compositions. I think he would be very pleased with this fine arrangement that was a great showcase for Sylvia's wonderful technique. But the tune that really impressed me the most was Gershwin's "Polkadots and Moon Beams." I was so impressed I decided I would have to add it to my own repertoire although I doubt I could play it like Sylvia!

I found the technique on numbers such as the various Deiro and Magnante compositions to be excellent although I am a little tired of these well worn accordion standards. I thought that Sylvia's compositions, "Petite" and "Serenata Argentina," to be really neat and would have liked to hear even more of her works. While most of the selections were well done I found the Malaguena to be ruined by the added castanets. I guess they added some authenticity but I thought that they distracted from the piece....besides not really being in "synch" with the music. Other than that and the occasional inappropriate bellows direction change I thought the recording was very nice and one I would recommend.

As a MIDI accordionist I found that the selections that used MIDI were OK but not used to the best effect. A MIDI "specialist" might find fault with some of the sounds selected and might think the use of MIDI to be less effectively utilized than is possible.

I also noted some unusual processing of the acoustic accordion. Either there was some doubling through a "harmonizer" electronic circuit or over dubbing was used. This was particularly effective although purists might question why it was used. The effect was most interesting.

In short I enjoyed the CD. While I am very open minded about the use of MIDI accordion and am a proponent of MIDI accordion, you might have a problem if you insist on only pure acoustic accordion sounds. But thankfully there are plenty of selections that eliminate the MIDI so both schools of thought will be happy.

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