New Music for Double Bass

Szymon Marciniak, double bass
Evan Mitchell, piano.
DVD/CD Red Mark

A fabulous new DVD/CD package has recently been released on the Red Mark label featuring the Richard Dubugnon Sonata; Lu Shang's Fantasy Higgs Boson; Frank Proto's Sonata No. 3; and Chiel Meijering's Ultimate Workout. In these world premiere recordings, Szymon Marciniak offers electrifying performances throughout. The ensemble with pianist Evan Mitchell is pristine and symbiotic. For those fortunate to be in attendance, this project essentially represents their ISB 2015 recital at Fort Collins. This release extends that privilege to all, and it not to be missed.

Richard Dubugnon's Sonata for Double Bass and Piano, 2009, is a beautifully engaging opening to the recording. A composer and bassist, Dubugnon has already provided the bass world with a number of gems. His ever-rising recognition in the world of composition should be celebrated. Marciniak and Mitchell achieve many sublime moments. The Scherzino explores the kalimba-like possibilities of right-over-left-hand pizzicato. The honesty of the Lied movement will stop you in your tracks. It is an engaging performance and seminal recording.

The Fantasy Higgs Boson for Double Bass and Piano, by Chinese composer Lu Shang, won grand prize in the solo division of the 2014 ISB Composition Competition. Its gorgeous crystalline textures and forward leaning momentum subtlety reference the composer's roots. As the title reflects, it is more a work of our time. The international premiere and recording of this work could not be presented with more integrity than exhibited by these artists.

The world waited 50 years for Frank Proto's second bass sonata after he composed Sonata 1963 as a student at the Manhattan School of Music, a work that remains captivating for its synthesis of styles and relative accessibility. Sonata 1963 has become a global bass repertoire centerpiece. Now, only two years after the premiere of Sonata No. 2, Proto gives us Sonata No. 3, composed for Szymon Marciniak. With perspective, it is a remarkable thing to witness Proto's return to this format after creating so much music in so many idioms and incarnations. While playfulness and stylistic nimbleness are ever present, there is also an intensity and distillation of vocabulary and emotional intent permeating Sonata No. 3. The intoxicating performances of Marciniak and Mitchell must be a delight to the composer. After half a century, Frank Proto is still writing towards our future. And with Szymon Marciniak, he has again found the ultimate nexus for his art. This is a new standard for all to consider.

But wait! There is a bonus track, Dutch composer Chiel Meijering's The Ultimate Workout. Please seek it out, your reward will be great! And seek out this recording.

Tom Knific
Bass World

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