Viazzani takes Stok
Romano Viazzani, one of the finest modern maestros of the accordion, released three solo accordion albums in 2007 on the ZZ Double Zed Music label. They should really be regarded as a 'boxed set', although each album is completely self-contained and works perfectly well on its own. The one that we are concerned with in this series here is Viazzani takes Stok, while the other two albums, also reviewed, are Piazzolla - Ángel Suite / Bobiç - Liturgical Suite and Encore.
Together, the three albums present a wonderful variety of musical styles and a veritable feast of music per se, not to mention for the connoisseur of accordion music. These solo accordion albums by Viazzani have been long overdue, although he could of course be heard on two earlier albums with his own then ensembles, still available from ZZ Music, L'Orchestra Rara - I Primi 15 Anni (1995 - Cassette Only) and The High Society Dance Orchestra - Steps in Time (2000), as well as of course, best-known perhaps, on two albums with modern jazz giant Gilad Atzmon's extended Orient House Ensemble, Exile and Musik. But here, at last, we have three outstanding solo accordion albums by Viazzani, extending the relatively sparse catalogue of modern accordion recordings. It is fervently to be hoped that we will see more of the young maestro's recordings soon. What a pity the BBC so far never released a recording of the premiere of Romano Viazzani's accordion concerto, Valceno, performed by Viazzani himself with the BBC Concert Orchestra under Nick Davies at the 2001 London Accordion Festival.
The present recordings, it has to be noted, are also distinguished by the sheer technical quality of the recordings themselves. The richest and the most subtle, delicate sounds of Viazzani's beautiful, mighty Beltrami CVP7 piano accordion are captured with equal clarity and perfection. A real marvel in itself. You have to hear Viazzani live to fully appreciate how well the sound has been captured here. As if any excuse were needed - you really ought to hear this incredibly versatile master live, period.
Reviewed here is Viazzani takes Stok, as already noted. Gigi Stok, born Luigi Stocchi in 1920, was one of the twentieth century's leading lights of the accordion and accordion composition, and moreover was the earliest and one of the most persistent inspirations for a young Romano Viazzani to take up the accordion himself. Viazzani takes Stok then is a kind of tribute album to this giant of the accordion and Italian dance music. Stok was one of the players of his generation responsible for the introduction of virtuosity into dance music. Viazzani is one of the very finest virtuosi of the accordion of our time, making this a very fitting tribute indeed.
The delightful selection of Stok's pieces presented here consists of waltzes, from slow to moderate and fast, a polka, a mazurka, a notable musette waltz, a tango and a boogie-woogie, Doges City, not only a play on words and very witty musically but moreover probably previously unrecorded.
Along with its "companion" albums, Romano Viazzani's Viazzani takes Stok sparkles with brilliance and consistency throughout and is utterly mesmerising, not merely compelling. An enchanting delight to heart, soul and ear in equal measure. These dances are totally infectious, their rhythms irresistable.
Viazzani has endeavoured to stay as true to Stok's original arrangements as possible, although a certain degree of liberty of interpretation especially in the accompaniment was unavoidable here and there, particularly also on account of the pieces being presented as accordion solos without a backing band.
Of all the gems that make up Viazzani takes Stok, all irresistible, three prove a particular delight. The less well-known L'Italiano a Parigi is one of Stok's few musette waltzes, musette with an enchanting, indefinable Italian flavour, full of charm and wit. Il Silenzio Fuori Ordinanza, a take on the Italian version of The Last Post, is a charming set of variations by Stok, while Il Silenzio will also doubtless bring back memories of the extraordinary, if perhaps somewhat over-sentimental, 1960s hit rendition by trumpeter Nino Rossi, at least for anyone who was around at the time. The boogie-woogie Doges City provides the most startling contrast to the rest of these dance tunes. Charming and witty, it references the boogie-woogie with an Italian flavour. The title of course refers to the rulers of medieval Venice, the Doges, while being a pun on 'Dodge City'.
Viazzani's virtuosity and interpretative excellence shine throughout this wonderful album and would be hard to match. He sounds like a whole dance orchestra with the rich sound of his accordion. A wonderful, mature effort from a modern maestro of the instrument.
The sleeve notes, in English only, provide excellent background on Stok and the selections presented.
Romano Viazzani's Viazzani takes Stok is surely well beyond essential in any accordion music as well as general good music collection.
© 2010 Rainlore's World of Music/Rainlore. All rights reserved.