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Ten Most Celebrated Accordionists on CD

Ten Celebrated Accordionists CD

Review by Henry Doktorski

A few years ago, I received a telephone call from an accordion aficionado in New York City--a student of the late accordionist, educator and arranger Cliff Scholl--by the name of Emilio Magnotta. Emilio explained that when his teacher passed away in 2002, he had inherited his teacher's collection of glass records of famous accordionists which he had recorded back in the 1940s. Cliff Scholl was an amateur recording engineer who recorded dozens of live concerts by the greatest accordionists in the United States. Both Cliff and I understood that he had acquired a gold mine of fascinating and historic recordings which he would eventually release on compact disc.

During the intervening years since I first spoke to Emilio, he met Dr. Joseph Ciccone, the nephew of the celebrated accordionist and educator Carmen Carrozza, who had already produced two excellent compact discs of his uncle's music. This was a match made in heaven, in my opinion, and now we are seeing the results of their collaboration: a superb compact disc with historic recordings by the greatest accordionists in the United States during the first half of the twentieth-century. Although the liner notes are sparse (I would have enjoyed reading more about the biographies of the accordionists and details about their performances; such as where and when the recordings were made; but perhaps this latter information has been lost), the excellent sound quality compensates for this omission.

Some might question the producers' choice of the title for their CD: "The Ten Most Celebrated Accordionists of All Time!" and I doubt the accuracy of that title. What about Frank Gaviani, John Molinari, Art Van Damme and Dick Contino; not to mention great European accordionists active during the same period like Yuri Kazakov of the Soviet Union, Toralf Tollefsen of Norway and Veikko Ahvenainen of Finland? I would have titled the CD something like "The Ten Most Celebrated Accordionists in the AAA (American Accordionists' Association)" or "The Ten Most Celebrated Accordionists in New York City during the 1940s," but Guido Deiro was never a member of that organization to my knowledge and lived in California, and Anthony Galla-Rini, although a founding member of the AAA in 1938, soon left for California and started his own accordion association in 1941: The Accordion Teachers' Guild.

Yet I believe we can forgive the producers' exagerration in the title because they were personal friends with many of these New York accordionists and wish to commemorate their great legacy in the history and art of the instrument. And in this CD you WILL hear great artistry. I highly recommend this CD for all accordion lovers.

Review by Rita Davidson, originally published at Accordion USA

Emilio Magnotta and Dr. Joseph Ciccone are proud to present for the first time ever a one of a kind historical discography, which they call “The Ten Most Celebrated Accordionists of All Time.” This musical compilation allows the listener to capture the true essence of the instrument and the artist. Featured on this CD are most of the founding members of the American Accordionists' Association. The pioneers--Pietro Deiro, Pietro Frosini, Charles Magnante, Anthony Galla-Rini, Charles Nunzio, Guido Deiro, Daniel Desiderio, John Gart, and Joe Biviano. Also featured is Carmen Carrozza, a past President and an active Governing Board member of the American Accordionists' Association. The fore-mentioned artists, giants of the accordion world have inspired generations of accordionists and will continue to inspire future generations of accordionists to come.

This CD includes recordings from a rare private record collection belonging to Mr. Magnotta, given to him by Cliff Scholl, a student of Pietro Frosini. It consists of 16 inch transcription glass records of live recordings of artists including: Frosini, P. Deiro, Nunzio, Galla-Rini, and Gart along with 78 rpm records of G. Deiro. A valuable collection belonging to Dr. Ciccone which consists of 78 and 45 rpm records and reel to reel tape recordings of artists was also used including: Carrozza, Magnante, Desiderio and Biviano. Most of the tracks were recorded live. Eight of the tracks were recorded live by Cliff Scholl in the early 1940’s. Track 14, “Bolero Fantasia” composed by C. Nunzio was arranged by C. Nunzio for an accordion quintet and all parts were performed by C. Nunzio. Minimal enhancement with modern technology was used for mastering this CD. This was done in order to maintain the true authenticity of the recordings spanning from the 1920’s through the 1960’s.

Cliff Scholl was involved in the accordion industry and the American Accordionists’ Association. He devoted his life to the instrument. Mr. Scholl was a fine accordionist, teacher, composer and arranger. One of his many passions was recording. Before his passing in 2002, one of Mr. Scholl’s dreams was to compile a collection such as this. We owe a debt of gratitude to Cliff Scholl, who had the insight and the engineering capability to record historical concerts from the 1940’s, musical gems that the accordion world will cherish forever. Hopefully this CD is the beginning of fulfilling that dream. This CD is a wonderful opportunity for you to hear the great accordionists playing well known and loved solos. If you have never heard them perform then this is your chance to listen and learn. There are 76 minutes of unforgettable performances. There is no other CD like this one. “The Ten Most Celebrated Accordionists of All Time” is a one of a kind CD. Emilio Magnotta and Dr. Joseph Ciccone dedicate this CD to Cliff Scholl and the American Accordionists' Association. I am looking forward to adding it to my collection of accordion CD’s.

Thank you and great appreciation is extended to Emilio Magnotta and Dr. Joseph Ciccone for having the vision to create this CD and for continuing to bring us the music of the great accordionists in future CD’s.

Total Time: 76:38
Released 2010

Tracks: * recorded live by Cliff Scholl

    1Charles MagnanteToccata in D minorJ. S. Bach
    2 * Anthony Galla-Rini Prayer R. Wagner
    3Carmen Carrozza Fantasie Impromptu (opus 69) F. Chopin
    4 * Charles Nunzio Racing Fingers C. Nunzio
    5 * Pietro Frosini Poet and Peasant Overture F. von Suppe
    6 Daniel Desiderio Polonaise Brilliante H. Wieniawski
    7 * John Gart Scherzo J. Gart
    8 Pietro Deiro Romeo and Juliet Overture V. Bellini
    9 Joe Biviano Saranata Sevilliana J. Biviano
    10 Guido Deiro Tancredi Overture G. Rossini
    11 Charles Magnante Malaguena E. Lecuona
    12 Pietro Frosini Carnival of Venice N. Paganini
    13 Carmen Carrozza Serenade for Strings P. Tchaikovsky
    14 Charles Nunzio Bolero Fantasia C. Nunzio
    15 * John Gart Vivo J. Gart
    16 Daniel Desiderio Arnilla P. Deiro
    17 Carmen Carrozza Piano Concerto in G minor, 1st Mvt. F. Mendelssohn
    18 * John Gart Snowtrain Shuffle J. Gart
    19 * Pietro Deiro Chanticleer P. Deiro
    20 Charles Magnante Flight of the Bumble Bee N. Rimsky-Korsakov
    21 * Pietro Frosini Rhapsody No. 3 in A minor P. Frosini

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