As another Cube gig unfolded, any misgivings about this particular instrument (particularly played en masse) were well and truly banished. We were treated to an amazing range of tunes played with great skill and enthusiasm by the No 1. Ladies Accordion Orchestra, comprised of no less than 15 accordions and one drum kit. The accordions were arranged in sections, each taking different parts to produce a seamless combination of interesting melodies and harmonies. During the second half, the introduction of a basso accordion added an outstandingly beautiful resonance and depth to the overall sound.
In a wide-ranging repertoire, pure joy was to be had from the group’s accomplished rendition of the fabulous Astor Piazzolla’s ‘Liber Tango’, played with great style and energy. Other musical influences included jazz, blues and Eastern European music with one of my favourites, a Macedonian piece called ‘Jovano Jovanka’, hidden in the midst of a Jewish folk dance. Some familiar tunes, such as ‘Loch Lomond’ and ‘Scarborough Fair’, were interestingly arranged and well produced, and Robbie Burns’ ‘A Fond Kiss’ was set to music with heartrending effect. I also loved the ‘Beguine for Bert’, a melodic and gentle piece written and arranged by the orchestra’s leader, Jane Ward, which demonstrated well the accordion’s capability for subtle harmonies, crescendos and diminuendos.
The accordions (mostly 120 bass and with a wide range of reeds or ‘voices’) come from Italy, whilst their players are from all over the UK. They meet approximately six times a year to engage in intense weekends of music making and rehearsal (apparently interspersed with much jollity and fine dining) in order to put on performances such as this one.
By the end of the evening, the audience had been treated to a unique and detailed tour of the accordion, with all its quirks and intricacies, through both the music and some informative banter between numbers. Those of us who have one languishing in a cupboard somewhere should retrieve it, dust it down and start playing again, preferably with as many other accordions as possible!
Reviewed by: Lesley Scott