gain a quick understanding of what the music on this disc may
sound like some information from the useful but anonymous notes
in the CD booklet might not be a bad idea.
Since 1988 ‘Ron’ has held the position of
principal bass for the New
ballet orchestra. But before that he played as a jazz, pop and
commercial musician. He even worked with Dizzy Gillespie and
Lionel Hampton. As a composer he has written for orchestra and
has arranged music by Astor Piazzolla as well as various other
works for differing instrumental combinations. He is also engaged
in writing a song-cycle.
has a lively and colourful website.
All of his works date from this century because he has not been
composing all of his life. In fact the Sonata recorded here is
one of his first major compositions.
main work is the Double-Bass Sonata. I have to say that
it is a very rare bird both in content and in length. Unfortunately
for me it’s the one piece on this disc that I was most unhappy
about. At almost half an hour there were too many times when
I felt that the pruning scissors would have been its best ally.
Of the material presented the adagio and the finale outstayed
their welcome. My interest was not maintained. In addition,
in the first movement, I felt unsettled by a poor balance between
the instruments. The bass, especially when in its slightly unflattering
upper register, seeming on occasion to be swatted away by the
hefty piano writing. So let’s turn to the other pieces.
disc opens with a three movement Tango Sonata for
violin and piano in which the two players are found to be ‘dramatis
personae’ in a Tango demonstration: good fun and an original
idea interestingly carried through. Piazzolla eat your heart
out! The work receives a lovely and characteristic performance
and the recorded balance offers no difficulties.
and the Donkey is
a very brief ballet for two boys and piano. The plot falls into
six sections, set out in the booklet. It was premiered by a
New York ballet company. The composer simply tells us to ‘enjoy’.
work entitled Trilaterus, which gives the CD its
name, is as it were, hot off the press. It is scored for violin,
piano and double-bass. There are three fairly equal movements
but here the bass is less significant. Stylistically it is rather
a hybrid; the composer even allows the option for the movements
to be played as three separate freestanding pieces. The first
is rather romantic and the second is inspired by ‘Tin Pan Alley’
with its night-club opening atmosphere. The finale is imitative,
contrapuntal and rather classical in melody and harmony. There
is a curious middle section when, over a repeated piano ostinato,
the violin is plunged into slides and atonal ramblings but this
gradual pulls itself back into the Bachian unison opening. All
advertising blurb that came with my copy of the disc points out
that not only is it the second disc produced by Wasserman, the
first which I have not heard being called “Lament and Restoration”
but says that he does not enjoy widespread distribution. The disc
features tow orchestral works by Wasserman: Suite of Historical Dances is based on
the four Bach orchestral suites and Lament and Restoration – a single movement
violin concerto for “Alison, Strings, and Harpsichord”. The Alison
in question is Alison Crowther – a mother bereaved of her son
by 9/11. The work is described as “starting in desolation and
moving toward healing”. Half of the proceeds from the first disc have gone to help “support
the non-profit classical performing arts industry”.
is much on this Trilaterus disc which you might well find
interesting especially if you a double-bassist or have a particularly
strong interest in this most overlooked of instruments.
see also Review
by Jonathan Woolf