FRANK PROTO (b.1941): Sonata No. 2 for Double Bass and Piano, SOFIA GUBAIDULINA (b.1931): Sonata for Double Bass and Piano, LOWELL LIEBERMANN (b.1961): Sonata for Contrabass and Piano, Op. 24.

Catalogue Number: 12X046

Label: Dux

Reference: 1746

Format: CD

Price: $18.98

Description: Gubaidulina's 1975 Sonata is a work of great seriousness and depth, suggesting a profoundly meditative spirituality, although (having been written under watchful Soviet eyes) it has no explicitly religious programme. Typically of the composer, most of its material is intensely chromatic fragments and instrumental gestures rather than extended melodies, despite which it comes across as a lyrical, singing work. Very much a work for double bass with some accompaniment - there are extended passages with none - the rich, sonorous chords (and one telling passage of direct contact on the strings) contributed by the piano nevertheless construct a suitably sepulchral setting for the solo instrument's inner struggles and resolutions. Liebermann's substantial four-movement sonata is neo-romantic in expression and its rich tonal harmony. Its melodic material is based on the solo passage from the double bass part in Act IV of Verdi’s Otello, one of the most important orchestral fragments scored for this instrument. The first movement is dramatic and heroically striving in mood, with strikingly lyrical writing in the contrabass' upper registers. The slow movement is songlike, exploring the full timbral range of the contrabass, its sonorous eloquence decorated with filigree embellishments by the piano. A brisk, motoric scherzo follows, with distinct echoes of Prokofiev and Shostakovich, while the finale seems to round out the narrative of the first movement with a sombre, valedictory conclusion. A double-bassist composer, Proto wrote his first sonata for his instrument in 1963. 49 years later, after a successful career in both concert music and jazz, he wrote the second, which incorporates elements of both aspects of his professional activity, while adding a virtuosic tour de force to the repertoire. The first movement is serious and tense, while the second, after a hesitant start turns into a rollicking piece of concert jazz, requiring great rhythmic alacrity from both players. The slow movement has some jazz harmonies, but is closer to the spirit of the first. The finale begins with an improvisation and then bridges both worlds in a scampering allegro punctuated with jazz licks. Marek Romanowski (double bass), Hanna Holeksa (piano).


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