William Schimmel: Theater of the Accordion

C. Michael Bailey By

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Long-time instructor at Julliard and all-around guru of the accordion, Dr. William Schimmel is a musical force of nature. Not a household name? Go to YouTube and type in "Scent of a Woman Tango" and watch the clip. Schimmel is sitting on the right of the band. That is who he is. He plays the accordion. Or, maybe that's too simple. Here is an extract of the liner notes by the maestro himself, placing the accordion into certain perspective:

"The accordion is theater—not just part of theater—but theater itself. It's a living sentient being with its own lungs, its own soul, mind, diaspora of memories, smells and dispositions. It needs no costume. It is the costume that we wear. It needs no words to tell stories although words are always welcome. Blind Homer would feel at home with the archetypical blind accordionist. And it's the ultimate Brechtian machine with just enough déclassé for alienation. The accordion has your number and don't you forget it"

Yeah. Schimmel is a bit of a character also. But this text is not the only indication of that. The repertoire Schimmel has chosen for his present recording Theater of the Accordion is an intellectual session of group therapy. Schimmel touches Strauss' Der Rosenkavalier, Berg's Wozzeck and Berstein's Candide Overture and those are just the show tunes! He quotes Busoni on "Sonata for Fiddler," Schoenberg on "Accordion to Schoenberg" and Bartok om "MicroBela." It does not require a college degree to enjoy this music, but a music appreciation class sure is helpful.

Schimmel's playing is without compare as is his intellect and sense of humor. He even brings on Wynton Marsalis in on "The St. Louis Blues" where he pulls the tango bridge out of the bridge and threads it through the whole piece. Marsalis also joins him on "Mahler 9" and what else is there to say...

Track Listing: Der Rosenkavalier; St. Louis Blues; Wozzeck, The Winner; Sonata for Fiddler; Discarded Melody; According to Schoenberg; MicroBella; Carnical of Venice; Classical Bluegrass; Candide Overature; Malher 9.

Personnel: William Schimmel: accordion; Wynton Marsalis: trumpet (2, 10).

Title: Theater of the Accordion | Year Released: 2015 | Record Label: Roven Productions

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