Tuesday, October 27, 2015

William Schimmel, Theater of the Accordion

Accordionist William Schimmel is a master of his instrument and a master of the quirky adoption of all kinds of musical source material to his own specific ends. We hear this readily and rather delightfully on his Theater of the Accordion (Roven Records 51115).

What strikes one first off is the sheer breadth of his reach. W.C. Handy's "St. Louis Blues" (with Wynton Marsalis nicely guesting on trumpet), reworkings of music from Mahler's Ninth and Strauss's "Der Rosenkavalier," Schoenberg, Bluegrass, and more besides.

It all becomes pointedly accordionesque in Schimmel's hands. He is a consummate master of the instrument, somewhat offhandedly spontaneous and carefully re-presentative in one moment to the next.

"Wozzeck, the Winner" takes the classic loser of Berg and Herzog fame and makes of him the opposite, in a rather hilarious sort of radio play.

And then the "Carnival of Venice," that mouldy old potboiler, becomes something other in his hands.

It's all quite impressively accordionistic and yes, quirkily so. And it is high artistry audio-fied, for sure. Anyone with a sense of adventure and fun who wants to hear some contentful accordionizing will be very pleased with this. I certainly was.

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