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Book 2 expands on the original Family Album in breadth and scope by including two duets one for two double basses, the other for double bass and violin and several longer works. Bach to Blues by John Clayton is aptly titled. Clayton ingeniously alternates between a classical style idiom and a great blues groove. The entire piece is pizzicato, and, as Bach did in his works for unaccompanied instruments, Clayton gives the impression of contrapuntal lines throughout the piece, creating an illusion of a simultaneous melody and accompaniment.
The piece begins with a slow melody line coupled with open string doublestops. From this sonorous beginning, Capriccio gains momentum and intensity until it reaches a climatic end with rhythmically ferocious thirty-second notes. The written-down part is in several sections with a variety of textures, forming the head of the piece.
After playing through this once, the two performers are then to use these musical materials to inspire a free improvisation, after which the written portion is played through again. Moon Dog alternates between slow and fast sections. I really liked how Moore used the musical material in each section of this relatively short piece to unify the whole. Especially beautiful is the thematic transformation in the last section, where the monophonic melody is harmonized in double stops.
When I Wage Battle Next is written in an A-B-A arch form, where the outer two sections are slower ad lib sections which contain a more energetic and rhythmic B section. Silver Suite by Hans Sturm, comprised of three impressionistically titled movements, is probably one of the more technically demanding pieces in the volume.
I know firsthand how strongly this piece can impact an audience because I was lucky enough to hear it performed a few years ago by the composer. This gradually calms down into a slower and softer section, which is nearly all in harmonics. Each of the movements is fairly short. It begins very slowly, with solo double bass playing a gypsy-Iike theme accompanying itself with open-string drones.
The violin enters with the bass, continuing in the same slow tempo. In the second section, the tempo is increased and a groove is set. This section lets both instruments play around with a repeating figure before returning to the material of the first section, as if one were returning home from a journey.
This five-page, single-movement work is full of intensity and passion. When you have completed the piece, you feel as though you have completed an epic journey.
A common thread throughout this volume is that the bass is used ingeniously in every piece to bring the music to life. Every composer represented here is also an accomplished performer, and as such, each is able to use the effects the double bass to maximum value. Although some of this music may appear difficult at fIrst glance, all of it is playable since each composer had to be able to play it.
Several times while playing through these pieces I was surprised and excited by the sounds coming out of my instrument, and at the musical possibilities I had not considered before.
I really enjoyed playing these pieces, and look forward to A Family Album: Book 3! Sandor Ostlund.
2 Morceaux, Op.1 (Koussevitzky, Serge)
Double Bass Concerto, Op.3 (Koussevitzky, Serge)
KOUSSEVITZKY ANDANTE PDF