Jump to content

Viva Regondi!

Recommended Posts



Just waking up after my attendance at the "Viva Regondi" concert given at the New York University Graduate Center in Manhattan last evening.


Gorgeous playing of these little known and no doubt, infrequently, performed works written in the mid-19th century by the composer Signor Regondi.


The concert was a retrospective of the music of Regondi covering his own compostions in addition his arrangements of the music of Guiseppe Verdi and other even lesser know composers of the Victorian era.


Both amazing and strange to hear concertina music of this genre performed, but beautifully executed with mind-boggling technique on period instruments by Douglas Rogers and the beautiful playing of Allan Atlas.


All I could think about as I listened and watched was what it must have been like to have heard this music performed in the Victorian era when this kind of music was no doubt, more in vogue.


The use of period instruments both in sound and appearance made the music of this era come alive and gave me a further appreciation for the music that, as Allan suggested after the concert, had "fallen through the cracks" in the history of music.


My favorite of the evening were Douglas' (accompanied by Joanne Last) performance of Regondi's "Les Oiseaux," Morceau de concert, Op. 12 (1851) and "Remembrance", Solo for the Baritone Concertina (1872), the second of which was performed on a George Case baritone from approx. 1860.


Additonally I very much enjoyed Allan's gorgeous obbligato playing on the set of songs by various composers which were arranged by Regondi and beautifully sung by Elizabeth Bell.


Also of interest, and performed with amazing technique, were Alexander Dunn's renditions of Regondi's, probably better known works, for guitar.


And finally the back to back performances of the composer's "Rêverie". Nocturne pour la Guitarre, Op. 19 (1864) performed by guitarist by Alexander Dunn followed by the transcription (by Frédéric D'Alquen) of the same piece for piano as "Nocturne-Rêverie" (1871) played by pianist Jin-Ok Lee and noted in the program as no doubt being the first contemporary performance of the two works on the same program, made this a probably once in a lifetime event.


Thanks to The Center for the Study of Free-Reed Instruments and Allan Atlas for once again providing new insights and exposure to the repetoire and performance of the concertina and for continuing this series or concerts. I'll look forward the the next one.


Glad I was there!!!!

Have fun,

Perry Werner

Edited by Perry Werner
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Not many c.netters, as far as I could tell, were there. Allan, of course, and Perry, and Doug Anderson and me. Anybody I missed?


The concert was not nearly as well attended as the previous biennial installments ("The Incredible Concertina" I and II in 2002 and 2004). But it was quite enjoyable and enlightening.

And finally the back to back performances of the composer's "Rêverie". Nocturne pour la Guitarre, Op. 19 (1864) performed by guitarist by Alexander Dunn followed by the transcription (by Frédéric D'Alquen) of the same piece for piano as "Nocturne-Rêverie" (1871) played by pianist Jin-Ok Lee and noted in the program as no doubt being the first contemporary performance of the two works on the same program, made this a probably once in a lifetime event.
I was waiting for the concertina version, but no such luck. ;)


Regondi was, as I gather from the program notes, a talented guitarist, concertinist, and showman. He evidently had audiences eating out of the palm of his hand. But his compositions were never embraced by other performers and were largely forgotten after his death.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

DAVE AND FOLKS: first, a thank you to Perry and Dave for their kind words. . . . .it was an INTERESTING evening. . . . one that illustrated various sides of Regondi as a composer. . . .there was general agreement that it was interesting to hear his extroverted, virtuoso side as played by Douglas, along with his very different, far more intimate approach in adapting the obbligato parts to the songs. . . . . .I think everyone was impressed with Alex Dunn's virtuosity in the guitar pieces. . . . .and finally, there was that juxtaposition of the original guitar version and the piano adaptation of the Nocturne. . . .this may well have been the first time that they were ever performed on the same program. . . .at least there is no record of such even during Regondi's time. . . . .


why did his music fall through the cracks. . . . .two reasons, i think: (1) although the classical guitar tradition is "continuous" from Regondi's time, the music was simply judged too difficult to play. . . .only recently has it begun to re-enter the guitarists' repertory. . . . (2) as for the concertina: two reasons--(a) it is murderously difficult (at least the big show pieces), and (B) the concertina itself, the "English" included, simply "changed directions". . . .and the entire victorian repertory fell into oblivion. . . .


it was, then, the main purpose of the program to bring Regondi's music back to life in a live concert setting. . . . .pity that the audience was small and that so few "English" players took the opportunity to hear something of the history of their instrument.......................Allan

Link to comment
Share on other sites

FOLKS: just a very brief footnote to one of Dave's comments: Regondi was certainly performed by contemporary concertinists. . . .we know that Blagrove performed his music, as did Isabelle Dulcken, who actually performed "Les Oiseaux" at a concert in Munich (and likely kept playing it when she performed in St. Petersburg and Moscow). . . . .one assumes that Signor Alsepti also played it. . . . .and thanks to Randy's research, we know that Marie Lachenal played the "Serenade". . . . . .i'm sure Douglas could add other instances to this off-the-top-of-the-head list.................

Edited by allan atlas
Link to comment
Share on other sites

It was a wonderful evening - splendid performances of beautiful music - and a bit thought provoking as well.


Walking back to Penn Station after the concert I mentioned to Cynthia that the audience had been politely attentive to all of the performances until Jin-Ok Lee began playing the "Nocturne-Rêverie" at which point all movement and sound in the auditorium ceased. The audience was spellbound. The back to back comparison of the same piece on a gentle period guitar and a powerful Steinway concert grand had me wondering if Regondi might have reached a wider audience as a composer if he was a pianist, rather than a guitarist and concertinist. Perhaps it is just as well he was not, because it would have been a significant loss to the classical concertina repertoire.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

DOUG AND FOLKS: it's probably an unanswerable question. . . . .that Regondi probably "suffered" somewhat -- at least from a historical perspective -- because he played concertina and guitar can hardly be doubted. . . . . . .on the other hand: had he played piano and written for the instrument with the same skill as he did both things on concertina and guitar, he might simply have been just "another" pianist and piano composer. . . . . on the other hand: bear in mind what the curmudgeonly critic Henry Fothergill Chorley said about Regondi. . . .that it was a pity that a person with his talent should WASTE it on the poverty of the guitar and the even greater poverty of the concertina. . . . . .i even had someone say to me many years ago: too bad you don't play the violin that well. . . . . .


my own sense of it: as a composer Regondi has probably fared better for having written for the guitar (let's forget the concertina works -- they're pretty much forgotten). . . . . .to be honest. . . .he's not the greatest composer in the world. . . . .and i personally find his big concertina works rather thin from the point of view of creativity. . . . .yet as Douglas demonstrated. . . . .they can really "wow" an audience. . . .especially an audience that doesn't expect notes to come flying out of the instrument like that. . . . . .


anyway: thanks for the kind words about the concert. . . . happy to hear that you enjoyed it. . . . . .Allan

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...