Kanon by Takeuchi - Nebl - Album Review in Italian by Alessandro Mugnoz.

BOOK REVIEW



Vintage Accordions
Author, Rob Howard
10 April 2012

Vintage Accordions

Readers may have seen mention of this new book in Rob’s advert in the last edition of this magazine. The word vintage comes from a description of the age of a wine, with some years being highly sought after. So it means something produced in the past. With regard to accordions it simply means an instrument that was made a considerable time ago without all the modern techniques and innovations that are currently available. I tend to think, rightly or wrongly, that vintage accordions are those made before the Second World War, because post war was a time when major advances were made, such as multi registers and cassotto sound chambers. Because of their limitations, I have not been attracted to vintage accordions, although they make a superb and exciting sound when played as a group, such as a Vintage Orchestra at accordion festivals.

For this reason I wondered whether Rob’s new book would appeal to me. Fortunately the book release took place at the recent Hemsby Accordions International 2011 and so I was able look at the book before deciding to buy one. I was delighted to find that it is not merely a book about vintage accordions, but a fascinating and sumptuously illustrated - mostly in full colour -  history of the accordion up to the present day, despite Rob saying it “does not claim to be a definitive historical guide to accordions”. Rob is modestly underselling himself in his publicity.
 
There are three hundred photographs, some very clear and very detailed and mostly in colour. Most have some useful information on each one, some of  which are unusual accordions that never caught on and so are not made these days. As a minor criticism I would say that those photographed against a highland background are often not seen to their best advantage because of the competition from their picturesque backgrounds. (One that was precariously balanced on a rock on the banks of a lake left me uneasy because I was expecting the next strong wind to blow it into the lake.)

It is a very informative book, dealing with the early history of the instruments of the accordion family and then going on to how the instrument spread, firstly, across Europe and then further afield. Almost every page of the book is illustrated in full colour. The book is arranged as a chronological history and in the twentieth century it is arranged in decades. There are articles on the history of the accordion in Britain, accordion manufacturing in Italy, Germany and elsewhere, the uniform keyboard and historic accordion recordings available from Tom Scruton. I found it particularly informative that there is included a comprehensive  list of the numerous Italian accordion manufacturers with the dates that they were, or still are, manufacturing.
 
The book must have involved a great amount of research to produce and I can heartily recommend it, especially at such a reasonable price, to any accordionist who is interested in knowing how the instrument developed.

Hardworking Rob tells me that he has been approached by a publisher who wants to produce, in a larger quantity, a more comprehensive history of the instrument. If this comes to fruition, then I eagerly await its publication.

Peter Ayers, Norwich
November 2011


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