Sounds of the Vintage Accordion - 1950's Scandalli
Improvisation No. 3 For Vintage Scandalli Accordion
This improvisation was originally composed in August of 2011 and posted on my You Tube channel "FromHolbergsTime." For some time I had been thinking about the evocative sound of accordion reeds in their many richly-blended varieties of textures, registers and unique acoustic qualities. This Scandalli was given to me as a gift by two of my 5th and 6th grade students at a time when I needed an instrument but did not have the funds to purchase a new one. An elderly gentleman had passed away and his surviving widow donated his accordion to the Mesa Public School system, hoping that the instrument would be played and enjoyed by a new audience at the school. As the instrument did not appear to be sufficiently utilized in the band and orchestra practice room, two students came forward to request that the instrument be given to their teacher. I received this Scandalli in the month of December about 12 or 13 years ago, after the school principal and music bandmaster kindly responded to the request of my students. I had not actively played in many years, yet I fell instantly in love with the marvelous sound of these beautiful Italian reeds. This instrument is a 4/5 reed accordion in LMMH configuration offering the typical 41/ 120 treble key and bass button design. The keyboard is rather petite at only 17 inches in length, and I believe that the reeds are handmade. 8 registers are available on the treble side, with 4 shifts on the bass section.
The Inspiration Behind the Music
Since the 1950's I have enjoyed listening to Classical music, first via radio broadcasts and then through the later purchase of LP recordings in the 1960's. For many years I listened to my grandfather play the violin and piano, absorbing these textures into the fabric of my impressionable mind. My grandfather was classically trained in Germany and often pointed out to me the architecture of orchestral composition. I loved the sound of my grandfather's large ebony upright Story & Clark piano in the dining room, and often fell under the magical spell of the vacuum-tube Stromberg-Carlson radio at the opposite end of the room. I listened to the Mercury Living Presence recordings of Marcel Dupre performing at St. Thomas church in New York City in the 1950's and marveled at the sound of a large pipe organ when played by a master. Improvisation became one of my favorite forms of music as I listened to more and more organ recordings and radio broadcasts in performances by the top musicians of the day.
The Language and Soul of a Great Art-Form
The recent release of "The Genius of Cavaille-Coll" by Fugue State Films underscores the monumental achievements of the visionary organ-builder Aristide Cavaille-Coll (1811-1899). This magnificent set combines 3 superlative DVD's detailing the life and influence of Cavaille-Coll as well as offering 2 CD's which illustrate the phenomenal range of French organ music from 1830 to 1900. An 80 page booklet superbly delineates this entire subject in scholarly fashion, providing a thrilling account overall of Cavaille-Coll's continuing influence and legendary status in the history of music. Will Fraser has done a magnificent job in directing the scope and size of this project, with splendid photography offered by Simon Still, marvelous sound by David Hinitt, and first class production and post-production by Will Fraser and Simon Still. This set offers a very fine array of French organ music, with fantastic improvisations performed by Olivier Latry, Pierre Pincemaille and Daniel Roth. Here are visions of eternity offered in evocative pockets of time, echoes manifested through marvelous instruments of treasured status & origin.