INTERVIEWS ... ( part 3 )

The order of interviews is purely chronological

MICHAEL WOLF

4 May 2009 Michael Wolf - Berlin University of the Arts (Hochschule der Kuenste Berlin)

dr. MICHAEL WOLF (click on the image to learn more)
dr. MICHAEL WOLF (click on the image to learn more)
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Interview

by Vito Liuzzi

1) Maestro Wolf,  
You have two degrees, one in Music and one in Biology. 
Is there a relationship between your music studies and biological science?

My interests in science and music have always run parallel throughout my life. Before I began studying music full-time, I had been working a number of years in cancer research, specifically, in nuclear medicine. My decision to give up a career in biology was based purely on my love for music. In my case, I wouldn't say that my interest in both fields was somehow related to each other, although it is quite possible that my scientific training has helped me to think clearly when dealing with the problems that arise in making music.
 
2)Who has inspired you during your musical studies on the doublebass? Which were your points of reference, if any?

I will always be indebted to my first teacher, Nat Gangursky, not only for the lasting impression that he had on me as a brilliant teacher, but also for his great patience and warmth, which became an important role model for me. I studied with him for ten years and, when he passed away during my first semester of college, he left a void which no other teacher seemed to be able to fill. After long consideration, it occurred to me that the best musician at the university was our horn professor and conductor, Lawrence Christiansen. I asked him if he would agree to teach me the double bass, and after just a few seconds of reflection he agreed. It was during the two years that I studied with him that I began to formulate my new school of bass playing. Ever since I had my first orchestral position, I also made the habit of approaching soloists and conductors, and asking them for private lessons. In this way, I was able to profit from the instruction of many brilliant violinists, cellists, pianists and singers.
 
3) Today you teach in the prestigious University of Music in Berlin. At the beginning of your career would never have thought to get that far? Why did you choosed "Berlin"?

I came to Germany because of its fantastic cultural life -- Germany has more professional orchestras than all the rest of the world combined. Berlin, with its numerous major orchestras, offers unparalleled opportunities for students to perform and gain experience playing with some of the best musicians in the world. My colleagues are renowned as teachers and performers, and the University of the Arts in Berlin (formally called the Hochschule der Kuenste) has a long and prestigious tradition, with former directors including Joseph Joachim, Engelbert Humperdinck and Paul Hindemith.
 
4) Well, let's talk about your very famous "Open Hand". In every your live videos, it's clearly visible. In your book "Principles of Doublebass Technique" by Schott Edition you clearly explain this new fingering method. Not only on the neck but also in thumb position. Do you think it
really might be the future of the double bass's technique? Is the "open hand" an universal technique or does it better work with students who have long fingers and a reduced string length?

I would like to begin by saying it that I'm genuinely impressed with how well many bass players can play with just three fingers!
   It is a tremendous handicap to only have a major second under your fingers, one which any cellist or violinist would find unimaginable. More importantly, for me, it makes it impossible to think diatonically when choosing fingerings -- almost none of the scales or modes are playable in one position. Many often assume, incorrectly, that the advantage of playing with four fingers is primarily that you don't need to shift as often. This isn't so. The fact is, that with four fingers it is possible to place the shift virtually anywhere one chooses, leading not necessarily to less shifts, but to those that make infinitely more musical sense.

Having said that, I must point out that I generally don't ask advanced students to change their fingering system. My students and I only have four years to get through an enormous amount of technique and repertoire and, as I said, most are able to get very good results with just three fingers. I'm often asked if one's hands must be very large to use four fingers. The quick answer is, no, they don't. My hands are not particularly large, and my double bass has a mensur of 108 cm. In addition to the normal four finger position, I also use extended positions, which are a half-tone larger (spanning a major third between the first and fourth finger). By way of comparison, a cellist using this extended position in the lower registers is "stretching" his or her hand even more than a bassist would using the normal four finger system. Even violinists playing tenths are "stretching" more. (I place the word stretching in quotes because the fingers of the left hand are not actually stretched apart but, rather, are bent towards and extended away from the palm.) My pupils, some as young as nine years old, are able to play very comfortably with all four fingers. If someone had truly small hands and wanted to play with the four finger system, then they would have to avoid using the extended position (with whole tones between the fingers) in the lower registers. As I mentioned above, switching to the violin or cello for those with extremely small hands (unable to reach even one octave on the piano) would not be an option -- on these instruments you need to "stretch" even more than on the double bass.
 
5) Maestro, I'm very interested in one thing. I have seen you played in Korea with a small microphone on your double bass. Also your pianist was amplified. Also the better double bass in the world, imho, will always have great problems to be heard in great halls ... exactly like guitar players. Today, with new sound tecnologies, is it a problem to play with an amplifier or not? What is your opinion?

The reason that the concert you referred to was amplified was because it was an open-air concert with thousands of listeners -- even orchestras are amplified at venues like these. I have never used amplification in the concert hall. Even when I performed Bottesini's grand duo with orchestra in a hall with 3000 seats, I was assured that there was no problem with the balance. Audiences are often very disappointed with the sound of the double bass in concert -- the fault here lies squarely with the double bassist, not with the instrument. A lack of bow control forces many to play much too far from the bridge with too much weight (or even worse, pressing the bow against the string). This results in a very weak and unfocused sound. Add to this the psychological effect of practicing in small rooms, and the inability to use the elbow effectively to move the bow large distances quickly, and it's no surprise that many of us fall back on the convenient excuse that the instrument is at fault. The truth is, that the double bass can project just as well as any other string instrument when played properly.
 
6) Let's return back. In the "Principles of Double Bass Technique" you explain a lot of very interesting things, about every aspect of a classical double bass. But there's something you should have liked to add into it? Some examples!

My book was conceived to be a compendium of a purely technical nature. In this sense, the information is very compact and technical. It was beyond the scope of the book, for example, to discuss any topics of a purely musical nature: form, harmony, phrasing, differences of musical styles, interpretation practices, ensemble and orchestral playing, repertoire, etc. should I ever have the time and opportunity to write another book, I might dedicate it to some of these topics.
 
7) Your German bow -- great technique! You explained in your book how to hold and use a German Bow. Is it really better than the Italian Bow or the French bow?

The great controversy among us concerning the German and French bows is really a very sad legacy of double bassists seeking to put the blame for mediocre performance on something other than ourselves. There are differences between the bows, but ultimately, they are immaterial.

With the German bow it is possible to support the bow in the crook of the right hand, between the thumb and first finger, providing a  "free" leverage point which requires no additional physical effort.  More importantly, the weight of the bow arm can be easily directed parallel to the string, in the direction of the scroll, as on the violin. (With the French bow, the weight of the arm is directed towards the bridge, as on the cello.) This is the reason that I personally prefer the German bow.

The French bow has a number of advantages: one is able to play closer to the frog with the right hand directly over the point of contact, the motion of the wrist which carries the bow towards and away from the neighboring strings is more natural than the same motion with the German bow and, of course, the effective length of the bow arm is lengthened a few centimeters. German bow players are able to compensate for most of these  differences.  They can hold the bow further from their palm (bringing the small finger further away from the bowhair and allowing one to play closer to the frog) and gain control of the less natural lateral motion of the wrist with a bit of practice. In the end, either bow in the hands of an excellent player will give excellent results.
 
8) Maestro, you also use a lot of thumb position on the neck. Why?

I'm not a big fan of the term "thumb position" because I feel that the thumb can comfortably be used, when necessary, anywhere in the instrument. I wouldn't say that I use my thumb "a lot" when playing in the lower positions -- it is, however, possible that when I do, it tends to stand out.  

One school of thought concerning the thumb that I strongly disagree with is the arbitrary selection of the G-harmonic in the middle of the G-string as the lowest point on the bass where one should use the thumb.  There is a broad range where both fingering systems work just fine; I routinely use the four finger system as high as an A on the G-string and the thumb as low as an F.
 
9) What is your main musical philosophy? Technique is important ... we all know ... but are there other elements to be a good classic double bass player?

I find it disturbing that a large number of bassists are satisfied in the role of highly accomplished sound makers. Admittedly, the technical demands of being able to produce the right sound at the right time are enormous (and anyone who is not able to do so cannot rightfully call themselves a great musician!).  But that alone surely can't be a satisfying reason for dedicating our lives to learning the bass, any more than a painter would be satisfied if being able to produce a number of highly virtuosic brushstrokes. If we are to develop as musicians, we need to learn to think not as double bassists, but as composers, artists, actors, historians and dozens of others who participate actively in the cultural process. By broadening our perspectives, we become able to perform in such a way that our audiences are both deeply emotionally engaged as well as enlightened. And...it's more fun!
 
10) Maestro, your sound is very similar to the cello's one. And it seems you play on a cello. Perhaps you love the cello more than the double bass?? :-) :-) Or the voice of a double bass must be the one we know better?

It would be a very shallow opera lover who claim to love only one kind of voice. If the cello is the baritone of the orchestra, then we are surely the bass baritone. Without voices of all imaginable range and color, music would become dull and monotonous. On the other hand, no one would seriously maintain that it's all right for any singer to sing with an unfocused sound, poor intonation and with no understanding of the score -- these qualities have nothing to do with the category of voice! When I listen to any double bassist, including myself, I don't ask myself "does this sound like a cello?" but rather "if this were a cellist, would it be a good or bad cellist?"
 
11) I would ask you thousand of things, Mr. Wolf !! But only one thing. Your students come from all over the world. What do you think about the doublebass principal school in the other countries that are not the traditional ones?

The world is small and, for double bassists, it is truly a global village. The differences from country to country have less to do with abiding to a particular double bass school, and more to do with the tradition for working hard and going to great lengths to achieve something that is worthwhile. That, together with a local tradition for actively making music, will continue to be the recipe for producing new, young talent.
 
12) Maestro Wolf, thanks a lot for your answers. The last word is for you. Is there something you would like to tell the students as a soloist and teacher?

We should all aspire to become great musicians, not just great bass players. During a string quartet rehearsal, it is very common for the violinist to lean forward to the cellist and say, "that is the sound I want -- show me how you did it!" But how often do the other strings ask this of the double bassist? Surely, we often hear comments about how surprised are colleagues are that "this or that" is even possible on the bass, but seldom is our performance taken so seriously that a colleague would care to copy it. This should be our standard -- to have a tone so compelling, technique so refined and understanding of the music is so complete that we are viewed with the same esteem that our colleagues have for each other.
Thanks a lot to maestro MICHAEL WOLF


L E O N B O S H

INTERVIEW with the England soloist "LEON BOSCH"

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Maestro Bosch, first of all, could you tell us a bit about your private life, which hasn’t been so easy.

 

 

 

 I was born in South Africa in 1961 and grew up in Cape Town during the most oppressive years of the „apartheid‟ regime.

At the age of 15, whilst still a high school student, I became a political prisoner and although I was ultimately found not guilty of all of the fabricated charges, the psychological scars have nevertheless been lasting.

After completing my schooling, I went to the South African College of Music at the University of Cape Town, as a cello student, and one year later switching to the double bass. It had been my intention to study law, but the state refused me permit to do so. My application for a permit to study music was in essence a light hearted prank, which this has ultimately had some very gratifying consequences.

The apartheid state‟s persecution continued and in 1982 I came to the United Kingdom of Great Britain as a student, and was later granted political refugee status. I was eventually able to relinquish this in 1994, after the first democratic elections in South Africa and in 1995, after the fall of apartheid, I returned to the country, not only to visit, but also to perform.

Repairing my relationship with the country which has inflicted so much pain is naturally difficult, but ultimately worthwhile. There is no doubt in my mind, that it is all but impossible to cut away ones roots and I relish the regular visits I now make to South Africa.

Unfortunately the process of rehabilitation recently suffered a slight a setback, when the South African consulate in London revoked my citizenship, apparently for infringing a minor immigration regulation.

Maestro, was it you who chose the Contrabasse or did the instrument come to find you?

 

The double bass undoubtedly came to find me!

I began my studies at university as a cellist, but if the truth be told, poor teaching earlier in life had left me with many obstacles to overcome.

Edna Elphick, my cello teacher at the time, engineered a meeting between me and Zoltan Kovats who, after a very brief conversation told me to come for my first bass lesson the next day, I didn‟t seem to have a choice in the matter and duly turned up at the appointed time. Zoltan‟s excellent teaching soon uncovered what appeared to be a natural facility for the instrument and by the end of my first year of lessons on the bass,

I had fallen completely in love with the instrument, a love affair which continues undiminished and grows in intensity with each passing day.

In the space of two years you have recorded three CD’s! What has changed in the last two years for you to achieve three such important works?

Although I have enjoyed a stimulating and active career as a chamber and orchestral musician, playing the double bass as a solo instrument is what really fires my imagination and I have now begun to reorganise my musical activities to reflect that passion.

In the last few years I have given up all orchestral playing, with the sole exception of The Academy of St Martin in the Fields, where I am principal double bass and whilst I do spend a lot of time doing commercial studio work in London, I now have much more time to devote to solo playing.

I had also made the decision to subject my capabilities as a musician and bass player to the ultimate scrutiny of the microphone and once I had recorded the first disc, began to realise that I found this intensive process much more searching and rewarding.

The second, third and fourth discs followed in fairly quick succession and I now find the process of preparation and recording so stimulating, I am literally impatiently looking forward to the next one.

It is my intention to record 2 discs each year, for the foreseeable future, and to cover as much musical ground as possible.

Is there anyone you would particularly like to thank for your incredible technique and interpretative capacity (a master, a particular teacher, a soloist or group of people)?

Many outstanding individuals have contributed significantly to my musical development, but if I had to single out one person in particular, it would be my first double bass teacher, Zoltan Kovats. Zoltan, the ex-principal double bassist of The Cape Town Symphony Orchestra, has unquestionably had the most profound effect upon my prospects as a musician. Zoltan is not only an exceptional bass player, but also the most effective teacher I have ever had the privilege to know. He not only taught me to play the instrument, but most importantly the true value of hard work.

Without Zoltan, none of what I now do would have been possible.

Although he has officially retired, he still maintains an active interest in all matters related to the double bass, and in addition to still teaching, plays regularly in the World Orchestra for Peace, under the baton of Valery Gergiev.

I have also however, ever since entering music college, and throughout my life since then, listened to innumerable recordings, attended literally hundreds of concerts and spent countless hours listening to other people‟s practise.

Hearing as much music as possible, performed both well AND badly, is vital in developing one‟s own aesthetic judgement.

 

 The thing I like very much in your recordings is your absolute respect for the score. Your sound is well focused (clear, clean and vibrant) both in forte and piano. Could you explain your way of interpreting a piece of music?

 

     Respect for the score must be the starting point for a credible performance of any piece of music. It is after all the most practical, and only, means available to composers to communicate their intentions.

The score tells us almost everything we need to know, but there are of course also the unspoken questions which are really of vital significance.

My approach to learning a piece of music is much the same as my approach to literature: when I find an author I like, I try to read their complete works, to develop a better understanding of their style, content and meaning.

I do much the same with music, in order to achieve some understanding of the composer‟s intentions, the distinctive stylistic features of the music, the nature of the detail embedded therein and the consequent technical demands. One also needs of course to have some understanding of the historical and social context, as well as some knowledge about the composer and his or her life.

Rachmaninoff said……

 

 

"A composer's music should express the country of his birth, his love affairs, his religion, the books which have influenced him, the pictures he loves... My music is the product of my temperament, and so it is Russian music."……

and I whole-heartedly agree with him.

After an initial period of mental preparation I begin to play the music, with my bow in one hand and a pencil, metronome and piano close by.

Once the note are learnt, the hard work truly begins, internalising the central message of the work and refining the technical means for most succinctly achieving that vision.

A few rehearsals with piano, to find out what is really working, is followed by a further period of refinement, and before long, the musical summit comes into view and the imagination can finally be engaged.

This is always the most satisfying stage, when the music itself begins to take centre stage.

One learns most in concert of course, and every single performance helps to embed things much more deeply into the unconscious.

 

You use the German bow hold. Why is it better than the ‘Italian’ or French hold?

 

   Having been a cellist before, I did at first play with the French bow hold, but changed to the German hold after a short while.

To me at least, it soon became clear that the German bow allowed many more creative possibilities. The left hand merely finds the notes, but it is the right hand which creates the magic of musical communication.

There are of course some excellent French bow players, but I am convinced that the German bow is better suited to the demands of the double bass and also my way of playing.

 

 I am asking about your bow hold because of your exceptional ability to achieve the extremes of dynamics from pp to ff. It sounds impeccable and excellent. You are one of the few soloists who plays in this way...focused, clean and clear. What is your idea of what SOUND should be?

 

Sound is absolutely everything.

Music is after all the story of human life, communicated through the medium of sound, and every piece of music speaks about some aspect of the complex human condition.

As individuals, because of our unique experiences and personalities, we perceive, experience and interpret the world in different ways and it must therefore follow that our performances of music will also be as uniquely different. The sound we produce, on whatever music instrument we choose, is naturally the most important distinguishing feature, much like the human voice, and the first task we have as artists, is to find the voice which represents our own personal truth.

A musician without a personal sound is, in my view, not really an artist.

Whilst a painter, for example, can look at his palette to choose the colours with which he will represent his view of the world, the colours available to the musician exist solely in the imagination. A great painter is not restricted to using only black and white nor even just the primary colours, but every possible shade in between.

For the musician, the possibilities are potentially endless, since music is capable of expressing sentiments which cannot be represented in colours or words. Nourishing ones imagination is therefore the unique key to unlocking these possibilities and being aware of all the possibilities in the first place, is the first step in allowing the imagination free reign, but then having the patience to implement that imagination, is the key to true self expression.

A good friend recently commented to me... "Someone who works with their hands is a labourer, someone who works with their hands and brain is a craftsman, but someone who works with their hands, brain and heart, is an artist!"

 

   In your opinion is there anything in particular that young contrabassists should consider when interpreting a piece or concerto? Young musicians often try to play too fast and lose control. Why do you think they choose inappropriate tempi?

 

     Most young musicians will, without proper guidance, fall prey to some of the most basic errors, not least playing too fast and losing control, but that in itself can be an integral part of a good musical education. Hopefully we all learn from our mistakes?

The inexperience of youth, and the desperate desire to impress, sees too many young and developing musicians resort to superficial gimmicks, like excessive speed, for their own sake. Deficient technique invariably leads to disaster however and no amount of enthusiasm, or bravado, can substitute for a fundamental lack of technique.

Young double bassists must realise that they are first and foremost musicians, and that faulty technique and faulty conceptual understanding will invariably lead to the kind of deficient musicianship usually associated with bass players.

It is our duty to further the course of the double bass as a musical instrument and the standards we should expect of ourselves should not involve any compromise.

Comprehensive technical command and a fertile musical imagination are the two most important skills to develop whilst one is a student. The first cannot be achieved without first learning what and how to practise and the second can only be achieved through satisfying ones curiosity about everything music has to offer us as human beings. History has produced countless great musicians and we have something to learn from all of them and indeed from everyone else around us.

Nobody is ever too old to learn and if the truth be told, we need to learn even more as we grow older.

 

     Maestro, in you the music seems to flow with such ease and to the listener, difficult passages seem normal for you, almost routine, just effortless. The question is, is it better to study a lot, practise for many hours, or is the quality of the study more important?

 

   To do anything well, especially in music, takes time and also requires immense patience.

Music makes certain unique demands of course and there is no profession I know of, which requires such complete absorption and dedication, but it is at the same time also uniquely rewarding.

The musical outcome one desires must of course dictate everything and this will inevitably make certain onerous demands, demands which might sometimes appear out of reach, but it is at that point that logic should prevail. Climbing a mountain, however high, requires one to repeatedly put one foot in front of the other and with determination, a lot of perspiration, and invariably a measure of pain too, the summit will soon come into view.

So it is too with music, but unlike climbing a mountain, achieving a musical summit is a lifelong quest, with an uncertain outcome, and requires the use of one‟s hands, brain and heart.

It is the performer's solemn duty to seek to understand what the composer intended and then to express that unique personal understanding as if one's very life depended upon it

 

 

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No phrase, or even a single note, should be allowed to pass by perfunctorily and the freedom and spontaneity necessary for true musical creativity requires plenty of good quality practise and at least as much thinking time.

 

 Would you talk to us about your wonderful double bass? Is there anything about your instrument that you don’t like?

 

   My main instrument at the moment is a Gagliano, which I have used it to record The Virtuoso Double Bass and The Russian Double Bass, as well as my most recent disc of Bottesini.

I acquired the instrument in 1995 and have had a bit of a tortured relationship with it since then. It is only now, after 3 major restorations, that it is beginning to give of its best. Acquiring this instrument was undoubtedly a real blessing: it possesses extraordinary power, projection and complexity in the sound, but it can also be somewhat temperamental. There seems to be an ideal humidity level which suits the instrument, but achieving this remains elusive.

For The British Double Bass CD I used a wonderful double bass by the English maker, Lockey Hill, but we have sadly parted company since then. The sound of this

instrument, with its rich and broad resonance, was particularly well suited to the demands of British double bass music and I have no doubt that I shall before long try to find another great English bass.

I also now own an exquisitely beautiful Landolfi, which I am still getting used to, but hope to use it for my next recording.

(11) Sung-Suk Kang is your pianist in The Virtuoso Double Bass, The British Double Bass and The Russian Double Bass. What can you tell us about this fantastic pianist?

It is a real privilege and joy for me to be able to work with a musician of the calibre of Sung-Suk Kang.

We first met in the early 1980‟s whilst we were both students at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, but lost touch for about 20 years after leaving. We renewed our musical association only recently when we recorded The Virtuoso Double Bass.

Sung-Suk possesses not only consummate technical control, but an extremely highly developed aesthetic sense. She instinctively understands my own brand of musicianship and we seldom have to talk about what we‟re going to do, how we‟re going to phrase, or anything else. We just play and challenge each other through the unspoken language of the music itself.

No other pianist I have worked with knows, even before I‟ve done it, what I‟m about to do with a particular phrase or even a particular note. She responds in a manner which is the closest thing to perfection, even though that‟s of course an elusive concept.

We have now recorded 4 CD‟s and our partnership continues to develop in ways I couldn‟t have imagined. Sung-Suk‟s qualities as a musician complement mine in an extraordinary manner and working with her allows me to live the utopian musical ideal which would otherwise remain locked in my imagination.

 

   Your CD’s are well done from a technological point of view. It is the first time I have had the pleasure of hearing the genuine sound of the double bass. Nothing is enhanced or manipulated in any way. Everything is perfect. What can you say about this point of view?

 

    I agree with you.

I have absolute confidence in Meridian Records; they are the original experts in „natural sound recordings‟ and the recorded sound they produce is the closest thing one can get to the actual sound one would hear in a live performance, without compression or any enhancements, and minimal editing.

The Church of St Edward the Confessor in Mottingham, South London, where we record, is a venue which the Meridian technical team understands particularly well and I have no doubt that Richard Hughes, the chief engineer, will faithfully record my personal sound and every note I play will be truthfully represented.

I also have to make special mention of our producer, Susanne Stanzeleit, who is without question the best producer I have ever worked with. She not only possesses all the pre-requisites of a great producer, but is also psychologically uniquely perceptive and is able to generate the kind of creative environment which allows me to access the deepest recesses of my own unconscious.

 

     Last question.....Could you tell us what your future projects are?

 

   Sung-Suk Kang and I completed a second disc of Bottesini in March this year, which should hopefully be released within the next six months or so. It represents volume 2 in our project to record the complete works of Bottesini, of which eight pieces with piano remain to be done. Then I shall move onto the concertos and duos concertante.

Later this year however, and before we return to Bottesini, I will record a disc of Hungarian music, as a tribute to my first teacher, Zoltan Kovats.

Then in March 2010 I will record a disc of Latin American music which is to include compositions by Piazzolla and also works by the Argentinean composer, Luis Jorge Gonzales.

In December 2010, I will record the complete works for double bass by Allan Stephenson, the British born, South African composer. This disc will include the concerto for double bass and orchestra which he composed for me in 2005, as well as his Burlesque for double bass, composed for Zoltan Kovats, and also the Sonatina for cello and double bass.

A second disc of British music is also planned for 2011, as is a disc of Dragonetti, to be entitled „The Dragonetti Phenomenon‟. For this recording I intend to use a 16

 

 

th

Century Brescian bass with three gut strings and a Panormo bow identical to the one Dragonetti himself used. It would of course be wonderful to be able to record this on Dragonetti‟s own instrument, but that remains a dream, for now.

 

Other projects are also planned, but more about this once I have completed the above recordings.

 

Thank you for your kindness and availability.

 

The honour it's mine, maestro Bosch! 

Sung-Suk Kang
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LEON BOSH e il suo "way of playing" - di Vito Liuzzi

LEON BOSH RECENSIONE (Trilogia)

 

            Una recensione è sempre costituita dal parere, dall’opinione dalla faziosità o meno di chi è costretto a scrivere sotto l’ indolenza ed insolenza del proprio “padrone”.  Orbene questo non è il luogo nelle quali queste amenità distruttive possano trovare alloggio. Il lettore-ascoltatore ha il diritto fondamentale specie quando il protagonista che andremo brevemente ad analizzare è un “contrabbasso”, a cui aggiungiamo “classico” poiché il nostro lettore deve sapere che le sonorità che andrà ad ascoltare non provengono da chissà quale strumento arcaico, bensì da un semplice e modesto “contrabbasso”, accompagnato da altri strumenti. Chi è colui che ha pensato di proporre quanto ci sia nel mondo contrabbassistico, ricordo suonato con l’ archetto, è Leon Bosch un talentuoso ed inspirato contrabbassista che assieme allo stupendo fraseggio della propria pianista, Sung-Suk Kang, hanno creato qualcosa di assolutamente nuovo, inedito, specie nell’ interpretazione dei brani di quel signore che si chiamava Giovanni Bottesini (1821-1889) e che ancora oggi per il contrabbassista moderno avolte costituisce un arduo valico da superare. Il lettore-ascoltatore dovrebbe sapere che di Lps o Cds dedicati al cremasco sono virtualmente infiniti, specie perché il Bottesini è stato nella storia del contrabbasso classico colui che ha effettuato una vera e propria rivoluzione copernicana: il contrabbasso non canta causa sonorità molto gravi, Bottesini dimostrò il contrario. E fu che nacque una vera e propria letteratura per il Contrabbasso, protagonista delle corti

Di tutto il mondo, o quasi. Orbene, il nostro Leon Bosch ha semplicemente pensato in questa sua “trilogia” dall’ interpretazione estensiva poiché sorta in momenti e tempi leggermente differenti, di proporre al pubblico e sul suo magnifico contrabbasso, prima di tutto la cantabilità e le incredibilità difficoltà che ancora oggi non tutti sono in grado di superare; poi, sempre con l’ impareggiabile Sung-Suk Kang il cui “accompagnamento” ricorda un brano a sé per dovizia di particolarismi e decisionismo ed infine brani legati alla letteratura britannica, nella quale si possono ascoltare arrangiamenti estremamente ben riusciti di composizioni prese da altri strumenti e riadattate per il contrabbasso: esempio tipico, brani per violoncello riportati sul contrabbasso, strumento ormai che la fa da padrone in tutti i teatri del mondo come se fosse un violino.

Bosh che di arguzia ma anche sensibilità ne possiede in gran quantità, ha ben pensato di dedicare un Cd al mondo dell’ ostico Bottesini, poi affrontare i compositori Inglesi che non sono da meno e con

La presenza di brani composti proprio per il Maestri, ed infine un piccolo salto nella musica russa, a cui tanto deve il contrabbassismo odierno. Qui però Bosh si avvale più di trascrizioni per contrabbasso, sicuramente per la loro bellezza e per la capacità di adattarsi allo stesso in maniera quasi scontata e semplice. “Virtuoso Double Bass”, “The Russian Double bass” e “The British Double bass”. Un dato è certo: Leon Bosh sa cosa vuole dal Galliano, ne conosce pregi e difetti e per questi motivi tutti i suoi brani vengono eseguiti con grande naturalezza, eleganza artistica, impeto musicale talora ove occorra ma sempre con una grazia che contraddistingue il suo “way of playing”. Bottesini si ascolta e sembra quasi di sentire un brano di comune conoscenza, quasi come se le immense tecniche di questo compositore si azzerassero. Incredibile ma vero. E poi la corretta

Esecuzione dei tempi scritti: mai troppo lenti per fraseggiare in un “fraseggio scontato”, e mai troppo “veloci” proprio per rispettare questa volta la filologia di brani concepiti per essere eseguiti

A velocità molto più blande di quello che indicano i compositori.

Ma vogliamo esprimere altri brevi concetti per poi chiudere questa recensione-osservazione nata dalla stima che chi scrive ha per Bosch. Ne abbiamo parlato in precedenza: Sung-Suk Kang. La bellezza che si unisce alla bravura di una musicista che non può essere considerata una “accompagnatrice di contrabbassisti”. E no! Qui la  Kang si esprime ai massimi livelli interpretativi poiché deve affrontare bravi non consoni ad un contrabbasso, e la sua capacità primaria si avverte allorquando la partitura la rende solista primaria (cosa che non esagera mai) e poi semplice accompagnatrice del contrabbasso facendo in modo che tutta la sua bellezza sonora possa emergere.

Non è facile trovare pianisti/e che hanno in se quello che definiamo “senso cameristico”.

Su Leon Bosh non credo si possano trovare difetti (a parte le solite note di interpretazione). Un concertista che lascia trapelare la sua grande calma sia nei passaggi più ostici, che il quelli che tale serenità d’ animo richiedo. Un personaggio insoliti ma che sa quello che vuole sia in fase musicale che compositiva- Leon Bosh: la semplicità al servizio della musica.

E poi finalmente un contrabbasso registrato con tutti i crismi di un’ eccellente registrazione.

Spazialità del suono, un contrabbasso che emerge nelle sue qualità sonora interagendo con un pianoforte magistralmente ripreso. Il contrabbasso è lo strumento più difficile da riprendere.

Ma mi sa che alla Meridian sanno il fatto loro.

Insomma, un lavoro ottimo che non dovrebbe mancare nella discoteca di contrabbassisti e di amanti della buona musica.

 

                                                                                              di Vito Liuzzi 

Leon Bosh - ISB 2009

The International Society of Bassists presents

Leon Bosch, double bass

Svetlana Rodionova, piano

 

Wednesday, June 10, 2009, 4 PM

Schwab Auditorium, Penn State School of Music

Penn State University

 

 

Sonatina for double bass and piano                                        Thomas Pitfield

 

Parallel Shadows for double bass and piano                                    David Ellis

 

A Deep Song                                                                             John Walton

 

Introduction and Allegro                                                         Lennox Berkeley

 

Rhapsody for Double Bass                                                      Marie Dare

 

TURN OFF ALL CELL PHONES AND PAGERS

No photography or recording, please.

 

 

THOMAS MARTIN says:

"We all must thank you, Dear Vito, for your tireless work for all of us bassists!"  You are doing so much for your colleagues and your art.

prof.dr. Vito Domenico Liuzzi "Doctor of Law" -"Magna cum Laude"

dr. Vito Liuzzi
dr. Vito Liuzzi

TRANSLATOR

"A TRIBUTE TO TEPPO" - Teppo Hauta-aho "THE KING" by Nbbrecords

DAN STYFFE "Octophonia" NEW CD

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CATALIN ROTARU or "The PAGANINI of the DOUBLE BASS"

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Click on the image for the free download

SPERGER DUO - "Sonatas for Double Bass and Piano" with PILIP JARO & Xénia Jarovà

GOLDBERG VARIATIONS

PINO ETTORRE

LEON BOSH

BOTTESINI

ALBERTO BOCINI

DAN STYFFE

DAXUN ZHANG

NICHOLAS BAYLEY

MARCOS MACHADO

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MICHAEL WOLF BOOK, if you like click on to Schott Edition
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PIERMARIO MURELLI

PIERMARIO MURELLI - "Nuova didattica per contrabbasso " Ed. Ricordi (click on the picture to read more).

ALFREDO TREBBI

ALFREDO TREBBI - Novissimo manuale semiserio per contrabbasso (click on the picture above to read more)
ALFREDO TREBBI - Novissimo manuale semiserio per contrabbasso (click on the picture above to read more)

RICCARDO CROTTI

GEIRD REINKE

BOGUSLAW FURTOK

SILVIO DALLA TORRE

ENRICO FAGONE

IRINA KALINA GOUDEVA

MICHAEL KLINGHOFFER

OVIDIU BADILA

ALFRED PLANIAVSKY

MAURIZIO TURRIZIANI

THE BASS GANG

Thomas Martin & Timothy Cobb

SILVIA MATTEI

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THE BASS SONORITY

THE BASS SONORITY: Vito Liuzzi, Michele Cellaro, Vincenzo Chiapperini, Leonardo Presicci, Giuseppe Lillo, Giovanni Rinaldi
THE BASS SONORITY: Vito Liuzzi, Michele Cellaro, Vincenzo Chiapperini, Leonardo Presicci, Giuseppe Lillo, Giovanni Rinaldi

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FEDERICO BAGNASCO

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ALFREDO TREBBI

Lo Zen e l' arte di imparare uno strumento
High Recommended

THOMAS MARTIN & his "Requiem" by Bottesini

PAOLO BENELLI

Dragonetti: Solos for double bass

by PAOLO BENELLI for CARISCH
by PAOLO BENELLI for CARISCH

FEDERICO BAGNASCO

Cd

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Mr. PETRU IUGA "invention" !!!

Vito Liuzzi !!

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