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January 26th, 2009 by Temple City Tribune
Paul Stein, artistic director of the Arcadia Public Library’s music series, “A Classical Kaleidoscope”, continues to bring outstanding musicians to the community and there is solid proof that his efforts are agreeing with local audiences.
Last Wednesday evening, accordionist Nick Ariondo, violist John Acevedo joined with Stein in a program of six pieces from classical literature and four original compositions by Ariondo, was presented at the Cay Mortenson Auditorium of the Arcadia Library in front of a more than full house—it was standing-room only, although efforts were made to seat everyone, and printed programs were gone–that gave full attention, and finally, a standing ovation.
Nick Ariondo, a teacher, composer, performer, has spent much of his professional career extolling the virtues of the accordion in an effort to raise the general public’s attitude that the centuries old reed and bellows instrument, so well known in polka music, actually has a wide range and with appropriate arrangements can be a compelling instrument.
Along with Acevedo and Stein, Ariondo made his point successfully before an overflowing and attentive crowd in a program that included the works of Fritz Kreisler, Niccolo Paganini, Manuel deFalla, Astor Piazzolla, Jacques Offenbach and Franz Schubert plus four original compositions by Ariondo. Ariondo was soloist on three of his works.
Two accordions were used by Ariondo during the concert: one that has a keyboard and bass-buttons that play both single notes and chords, and another that has a keyboard but in which the bass-buttons are single notes only. Whether he was playing his “Lucenta Sera” (”Evening Lights”) on the former, or the Greek-dance inspired “Kalamatiano for Viola and Free-bass Accordion on the latter, Ariondo fully displayed the many moods of the instrument. His dazzling fingerwork, extraordinary control of the bellows for dynamics, and his coordination as seen in his arrangement of violin virtuoso Paganini’s “Perpetual Motion” (”Moto Perpetuo”) offered an insight to the depths of the accordion, but more, to Ariondo’s abilities. His final solo, “Adios Nonino” (”Goodbye, Father”), by Piazzolla, returned the accordion to familiar territory with the strong tango rhythms that the Argentine Piazzolla became famous for in the 1950s.
Violist John Acevedo added flair and vigor in Kreisler’s “Sicilienne and Rigaudon” and deFalla’s “Ritual Fire Dance” from “El Amor Brujo”.
The trio played three songs of vastly differing natures. Schubert’s “Erlkonig” (”The Erl-King”) used the accordion in the manner of a cello in a string quartet, although Schubert wrote the piece for voice and piano. From Offenbach’s “Tales of Hoffman” Ariondo arranged the “Barcarolle” to fine effect with Stein leading the melody with sweetness. An Ariondo original, “Café Noir”, paid homage to the sophisticated slickness many associate with a Parisian café. For the “Café” music, Ariondo wore an Italian beret, a bosco while playing the accordion. The trio encored with “Adieu”, the additional number inspired by the enthusiastic standing ovation offered the musicians.
President of the sponsoring group, The Arcadia Public Library Foundation, Meredith Brucker, greeted the crowd touting the classical music series by telling the crowd the program just had to be “the best deal in town: free program, free parking and great musicians.”
“A Classical Kaleidoscope” continues at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 4 with Stein, Andrew Duckles, viola and David Garrett, cello in the music of Beethoven, Bach and Joplin. The program will include an answer to “Why Wood Sounds Good: Making and Playing Violins”. “Why Wood Sounds Good: Making and Playing Violins” will also be a part of the program.
by Bill Peters