A couple of years ago, I wrote a small concerto for the classical accordion (free bass accordion or bayan). This wonderful and very versatile instrument was considered ways too much and too long as a typical street instrument, whereas it offers so many possibilities as a solo, in all kinds of ensembles and orchestras. There are large numbers of classically trained soloists nowadays, capable of playing the most difficult parts with ease. That has been a tradition in Ukraine and Russia for many decades, but the serious accordion has reached the rest of the world around 1980 and later. Therefore it was necessary to write more concertant music for the instrument, because the usual repertoire was mainly transcriptions of classical popular scores.
Here is my attempt to add something to that repertoire. It has been performed live since, but unfortunately I don't have a recording of that concert.
All comments are welcome!
Part I: Allegro Divertente
Part II: Andante Assai
Part III: Rondo Giocoso
The 3 movements take about 10 minutes together. They have a different style each. The second one is based on a Russian folk song.
Enjoy the listen!
This is a different way for me to hear the accordion that I am not accustomed to. I generally hear it in OM PA German bands or Irish traditional music in my area. To my ears the accordion takes on an almost organ like quality. Possibly this was the reverb?
I liked hearing the instrument in this orchestral setting, though I kept waiting to hear a tuba in there somewhere due to my preconceptions. Very pleasant relaxing music which I enjoyed!
Thanks for sharing!
Thanks for having taken the time to listen (rare these days...).
That is exactly my goal: Bringing the traditional accordion in the spotlights, but in a totally different way. In the US the accordion is still considered as a typical folklore instrument with a more or less poor reputation. But in Russia, Europe, Ukraine and many other countries (amongst which also Canada) there are more and more classically trained virtuoso who play very complicated contemporary music and concertant pieces of all kinds. Already in the fifties some European and Russian composers wrote dedicated music for the instrument (concerti) in a modern way, next to the many adaptions of popular classical pieces. But still, there's too little serious repertoire to convince the average classical world to insert the accordion in the orchestral circuit.
We all know the English/Irish concertina from the folk music, the Argentinian bandoneon (tango) and the cajun in Northern America. But in the European continent the accordion is getting more and more popular as a 'serious' instrument. Nearly all the conservatories have courses for the classical accordion nowadays (at least in Europe) where you can study until you have a masters degree. The famous music centers even provide master classes with international virtuosi to raise the performance level even more.
And you're right about the organ-like sound. It has nothing to do with the reverb, but with the sound of the classical accordion itself. It is after all an organ-like instrument, producing sound by reed vibrations with air pressure (like some organs have next to the pipes) and with many stops to combine register sounds. That may look a little strange, because we're all used to the slightly off-tune musette sound from the French accordions (mid 20th century). The Russian bayan was the predecessor of the modern free bass accordion (with 2 discounts - melody keyboards - so that it is possible to play in 4 voiced counterpoint, which was impossible with the traditional accordion). 'Free bass' points at the possibility to change the typical bass function into a full featured 'normal' keyboard by simply clicking on a button.
The Concerto Piccolo has been performed live in February 2019 by a professional accordion player. She studied in Brussels, Amsterdam and Moscow. She informed me that the small concerto was rather challenging as to technique and interpretation of the score. (Although I intended to write a piece for beginning soloists...) The orchestral parts are a lot simpler.
If you want to know more about the present day accordion literature, please search Google and you'll find a great number of very interesting pieces and famous performers. Maybe you can have a look here as well:
Thank you Jos for sharing this information. I checked that link out and it was interesting to read through it. I was not too long ago looking at potentially buying an accordion :) I looked at all of the ones here that were most commonly played. A few Italian brands seem to come up often. I really like some of the electric accordions as well.
I am impressed with the talent here even at the folk music level. My exposure is no doubt limited to only what I see in my local area. In a country with 330 million people in it, I'm sure there are at least a handful of musicians seriously pursuing accordion here at that level. Many of the musicians who play locally are often playing music much under their abilities..............but yes, I have always associated the instrument with European roots and would only make sense that those countries would be probably more invested in these instruments because of cultural ties.
I do love the sound of the instrument .I like to hear it played in the folk settings where it really shines in dance music. Was nice to hear it played in the settings in which you have placed it as well.The compositions made good use of the instrument in a classical setting, so I think you reached your goal and probably surpassed it.
Nice to hear that you like the instrument. If you consider buying one, please keep in mind that the good 'Italians' are pretty expensive! Roland offers some digital models that are quite affordable and with very decent sounds, many registers and a good bellows feel (necessary for the attacks and the note velocities), just like with a real accordion. I own a Roland and I'm absolutely fond of it, although the built-in speakers could be better. But I often connect it to a powered external speaker with more presence and depth.
Another advantage is the weight. My Fratelli Crosio weighs about 20 kg, the Roland only 8 kg...