Accordionist Gives Virtuoso Display of Classical Works

09/08/2014

 Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2014 (3) – Classical Accordion at the Fringe: Paul Chamberlain, Over-Seas House, 9.8.2014 (SRT)

This is my biggest surprise of the festival so far, and a pleasant one at that.  Paul Chamberlain used his accordion to shake off the instrument’s image as a background bandstand accompanist, and argues a convincing case for its place as a provider of virtuoso showpieces.

He began his programme with a pretty breathtaking run through Khatchaturian’s Toccata, blowing the cobwebs off any preconceptions that you may have of the instrument, and he proceeded through a well-chosen programme – including Scarlatti, Piazzolla and Zolotaryov – which showed off everything his instrument could do.

He brought an astonishing breadth of colours and styles to the instrument’s necessarily limited range, but I was especially impressed not only by his quicksilver fingerwork, but also by the way he made the accordion’s rustic wheeze sound not only jolly but also, by turns, dramatic, threatening or stormy as need be.

The concert culminated in a stunning run through Weber’s Konzertstück which was amazing in its range of colours and its quickfire attack of the notes.  If you hadn’t known it was originally written for a full orchestra then you probably wouldn’t have guessed.

Chamberlain himself is a modest, diffident presence on the stage, and I liked the way he gave us a tour of his Russian-designed instrument, showing what all the different parts could do.  This was his final Fringe show, but I’ll certainly watch out for him in future.

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe continues until 25th August at a range of venues across the city.  For full details click here.

 

Simon Thompson

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