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Dragonetti
Concerto for Double Bass and Piano

edited by David Walter

In this high-quality publication, esteemed bassist and pedagogue David Walter offers a refreshing new perspective of an old favourite, the Dragonetti Concerto. In the preface, Walter places the work in its historical context, offers biographical information and discusses the question of authorship, with evidence being presented that Edouard Nanny was the concerto's true composer.

In the first movement, Walter puts accents on the opening three half notes, making a bold clarion call before highlighting the descending scale at the expense of the repeated, less interesting open Ds. Subsequent sixteenth note passages are treated to varied slurrings and articulations, giving an attractive shape to sections that sometimes sound workmanlike. Sculpting musical form out of lumpy sequential material frees some phrases from the leaden tyranny of the downbeat, allowing them to run with renewed vigour from the oflbeat sixteenths. Open-voiced spread chords in bar 18 allow the bass an almost Viennese-tuned resonance, while contrasting definitions of the triplets in bar 31 create interest and heighten the dramatic tension. In bar 52, the rhythms are rearranged, propelling the arpeggiated crescendo to its high point.

The second movement again finds Walter grouping notes in a logical and mellifluous way. The down bows in bars 29 and 31 are retaken, so that the bass practically provides its own accompaniment; the double-stops from bar 45 receive greater significance by replacing thirds with open fifths, which creates a satisfying counterpoint. Walter's cadenza would have had the good burghers of 18th-century Vienna reaching for the smelling salts, as it embraces such 20th-century innovations as false-harmonic scales and one-finger pizzicato glissandi. In the introductory notes, Walter outlines his approach to cadenza writing, highlighting their improvisatory origins, and he urges performers to write their own "unrestrained expression of enthusiasm."

The last movement is given a new lightness of touch through contrasting articulations. To move the upbeat to bar 41 from the accompaniment into the solo part makes sense of a previously incongruous corner. In bar 53 the call and answer theme is given octave transpositions, which makes use of the bass. lower ranges and gives relief from relentless eights in thumb position.

Walter's lyrical approach is sincere and compelling, and by drawing clarity from a mist of notes, he brings a youthful exuberance to a slightly creaky, old masterpiece.

Iain Crawford
Double Bassist


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Dragonetti

Concerto for Double Bass and Piano

edited by David Walter


The Dragonetti Concerto makes a return in a new edition from Liben Music. Thoughtfully edited by bass pedagogue David Walter, the edition was sponsored by the Kolstein family and dedicated to the memory of the great bassist Frederick Zimmermann and his wife, Dorothy.

This edition comes with a piano reduction of the orchestral parts to facilitate the needs of students and auditioners, although a solo tuning part is available from the publisher as well. As with his recent Koussevitzky Edition Walter has taken pains to write a comprehensive introduction to the edition, outlining Dragonetti's career, discussing the question of authorship and encouraging performers to create their own cadenza. An alternate dramatic virtuosic cadenza is also provided, featuring accelerating arpeggiated runs, false harmonics and broken chords.

The edition is published on very high quality oversize paper with a large-sized font for legibility and is laid out to avoid awkward page turns. In an effort to accommodate a range of bassists, fingerings are for the most part excluded, save for a few helpful tips on how to execute the double stops midway through the second movement. Articulation markings are present throughout the piece and hold to the generally-accepted classical period performance practice of shorter sixteenth note articulations and more legato eighths.

Perhaps the most often performed concerto in our repertoire, the Dragonetti is finally available in a thoughtfully and beautifully crafted edition.

Hans Sturm
Bass World


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Dragonetti

Concerto for Double Bass and Piano

Liben Music Publishers


Let's get things right from the start! Dragonetti did not write the "famous Dragonetti Concerto" - Edouard Nanny did! Look at all the Dragonetti manuscripts in the British Museum, or any published work by Yorke Edition or Doblinger, and you will see that this present work bears no resemblance to any other work by the Italian virtuoso. However, look at Nanny's Concerto and then compare the two! David Walter writes an informative preface about the history of the concerto, but Nanny did for the bass what Kreisler did for the violin.

Having got that off my chest, here goes with the review . . .

This edition, by David Walter, is thankfully in orchestral tuning making the work more accessible to all bassists - the other editions (IMC/Leduc) being both in solo tuning, and the editor sheds new light on one of our most popular works. Some of the articulations have been changed, even notes revoiced or changed, but with about 70 years of playing and teaching experience David Walter brings a unique and insightful approach to the work. Some of us would probably need therapy before we could change the original version we learnt in the days of yore, but give this a go and see if your interpretation can benefit from a new approach.

A new cadenza has been provided for the slow movement, but you may prefer to write your own or base yours on the Nanny version. There is plenty here to keep many an 'anorak' happy for countless hours and it is worth comparing the different editions and then making your own decisions about what to keep or change.

This edition uses a large and bold typeface with good page turns and will be popular with bassists playing the concerto for orchestral auditions, or students who do not possess solo strings. A popular concerto edited by a bassist of international reputation. Try it!

Max Christiansen
The British & International Bass Forum


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Glière

Suite for Violin or Viola and Double Bass

Liben Music Publishers


Bassists know Glière for his Four Pieces for Double Bass and Piano, written as he embarked on a distinguished career. Later, as Professor of Composition at the Moscow Conservatory, his students included Aram Khachaturian and Sergi Prokofiev. Working in the Russian Romantic tradition, Glière's vast compositional output ranges from works in the grand forms of opera, ballet and symphony to myriad chamber combinations.

Glière's Suite for Violin or Viola and Double Bass is distilled from his Eight Pieces for Violin and Cello, Op. 39. The viola part is broadly similar to the original violin part though the bass part has, by necessity, been significantly altered. Editor Frank Proto has selected five of the miniatures which, though not key-related, play satisfyingly well together. The first, Prelude, is a mysteriously sombre Andante with double-stops in both parts creating thick, dark textures. The second, a playful Gavotte contrasts beautifully with the lilting Cradle Song which follows. Inverted intervals and unsettling syncopations colour the fourth miniature, an Intermezzo, before the suite ends with a triumphant Scherzo. This character sketch is reminiscent of the Scherzo for Double Bass and Piano written the previous year, but is mercifully less formidable technically.

Originally published in 1980, this reworked version contains few changes: some dynamic tweaking, the odd chord voicing and octave altering notwithstanding. It remains a charming group of pieces, colourfully drawn, and thanks to Proto's pragmatic, musical editing, accessible to all bassists.

Iain Crawford
bibf
Double Bassist


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Glière

Suite for Violin or Viola and Double Bass

Liben Music Publishers


This was first published by Liben Music in 1980 and the suite of five pieces is taken from 8 Pieces for Violin and Cello Op. 39 (1909) and is transcribed by Frank Proto. Newly typeset and with a different cover, this edition also includes a helpful and informative biography of Glière, helping to put the work into historical context.

This edition, in orchestral tuning, has much to commend it and not least the inclusion of a violin part arranged for viola, opening up the possibilities of performance. There is nothing particularly virtuosic for either player, but plenty of music to get your teeth into! The Prelude and Cradle Song are particularly effective, G minor and G major respectively, and this would suit any adventurous bassist of a good intermediate level.

Frank Proto mentions the thorny issue of transcriptions in his preface "... Purists will no doubt tsk tsk about some of my liberties; never-the-less, the goal here was not to publish a urtext but to provide bassists with an edition that, in the hands of a gifted player, will bring a satisfying musical experience to both audiences and performers." Some transcriptions work well, some do not! This is certainly the former and is definitely recommended.

Max Christiansen
The British & International Bass Forum


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J.S. Bach

Fifteen Two-Part Inventions

for Violin or Viola and Double Bass


This well-presented score for double bass with violin or viola by Frank Proto was published in 1978. In the original version for piano it is easy to see the counterpoint, the melodic line and vertical harmony. This version leaves us somewhat in the dark without the full score, but this is a small criticism of an otherwise great edition.

Proto has chosen keys that are ideal for strings, particularly the double bass, and has even taken the trouble of writing out the ornamentation. The first invention, for example, is taken from C to G Major, taking into account bass transposition (sounding and octave lower than printed) to achieve the correct one-octave spacing between the hands on the piano. The range of the bass part spans from open D up to C above the stave, and the part is very playable if one adopts the Rabbath/Proto 'across the strings in thumb position' approach.

These inventions offer many challenges, not least because the music is conceived as two equal voice, which may be difficult to achieve on the double bass playing with a violin or viola. The other main hurdle is making them sound as light and incisive as a clavichord, virginal or spinet. My favourite is number eight, which incorporates F major scales, arpeggios and leaps.

Tony Alcock
Double Bassist


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