by Jud Snyder, Editor Community Voice , March 31, 1998
Letís face it. The promise of a work featuring a classical music orchestra,
an accordionist and a piece focused on coffee shops in Melbourne,
Australia, isnít exactly Mendelssohnian. In the parlance e of music show biz, itís a tough ticket to sell.
But in Spreckels Performing Arts Center last weekend, Nan Washburn and
Orchestra Sonoma pulled off a superb bit of musicianship with the
world premier of Cafes of Melbourne, written in 1997 by Janika Vandervelde. They had virtuoso accordionist Nick Ariondo as soloist,
surely the Yehudi Menuhin of the accordion. The blending of the small orchestra with Ariondo produced a charming, lusty, sometimes
whimsical, evocative and stimulating work of art that delighted the audience.
Then to top it off, Ariondo swept through an electrifying arrangement
of Russian folk-tinged melodies called Kamarinskaya Medley, written
by Gliere. Another solo piece by Niccolo Paganini (1782-1840) Perpetual Motion, capped Ariondoís solo work. This latter work is a
racehorse smasheroo written for violin and piano that only accomplished violinists attempt. Itís in the category of a Tara Lipinski triple jump.
Violinists have been known to switch to tympani in sheer frustration. But Ariondoís superb fingering handled it like a kindergarten piece,
making it sound like he had 20 fingers instead of ten. He took curtain call after curtain call from the 300 or so ticket buyers, one of the bigger
crowds for Orchestra Sonoma (Who said it was a tough ticket to sell?).