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CD: Crotchet

The Russian Double Bass
Anton RUBINSTEIN (1829-1894)
Melodie (arr. Popper ed. Leon Bosch) [2:57]
Romance (arr. Leon Bosch [2:57]
Sergei RACHMANINOFF (1873-1943)
Prelude Op.23 No.10 (1901) (arr. Allan Stephenson) [3:35]
Romance Op.6 (1893) (arr. Leon Bosch) [4:32]
Elegy Op.3 (1892) (arr. Roumen Dimitrov) [5:20]
Vocalise Op.34 No.14 (1912) [6:41]
Sergei KOUSSEVITSKY (1874-1951)
Andante Op.1 No.1 [3:40]
Valse Miniature Op.1 No.2 [2:58]
Chanson Triste Op.2 [4:02]
Humoresque Op.4 [2:27]
Rheinhold GLIÈRE (1875-1956)
Intermezzo Op.9 No.1 (c.1904) [3:39]
Tarantella Op.9 No. 2 (c.1904) [5:24]
Prelude Op.32 No.1 (c.1908) [4:00]
Scherzo Op.32 No.2 (c.1908) [4:56]
Mikhail GLINKA (1803-1857)
Susanin’s Aria - A Life for the Tsar (1836) [4:23]
Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975)
Romance from The Gadfly (1955) (arr. Leon Bosch) [2:46]
Leon Bosch (double-bass)
Sung-Suk Kang (piano)
rec. 2009
MERIDIAN CDE84564 [64:18]
Experience Classicsonline

Leon Bosch is curating a nice line in bass recordings for Meridian. He’s previously released the British Double Bass (see review) and the Virtuoso Double-Bass and now reappears with a similar album devoted to Russian repertoire. As one might anticipate it’s full of the soulful and dolorous pleasures of romantic plenitude.

Popper’s familiar arrangement for cello of Anton Rubinstein’s Melodie has been edited by Bosch for the bass. Bosch tells us in the notes that he saw a YouTube video of Piatigorsky playing the same composer’s Romance and he was smitten enough to adapt it for the bass; the results are warmly textured and full of uncloying sentiment in his splendid performance. Allan Stephenson, English-born but long South African resident, is well known as a composer - you may have come across his concertos for instance - but here turns his hand to an arrangement of Rachmaninoff’s Prelude Op.23 No.10 in which the piano writing in the treble is especially striking. Bosch himself has arranged the Op.6 Romance, composed in 1893 and tinged with characteristic melancholy. The poignancy of the Op.3 Elegy, courtesy here of Roumen Dimitrov, is enhanced by Bosch’s expressive dynamics. It’s also believed that Vocalise was written originally for the double-bass which makes its inclusion here all the more valuable and pertinent.

That master bassist Koussevitzky, who left behind enough recorded examples of his work to warrant the description, is represented by four charming pieces. The Op.1 Andante is a salon effusion of persuasive warmth, but its opus stable mate, the Valse Miniature, is a decidedly testing work for both left and right hands, and is a real insider executant’s piece. The Chanson Triste re-establishes lyric virtues whilst taking the bass resonantly low into the cavernous depths of the instrument.

The four Glière pieces are dated to the first decade of the twentieth century. They form a pleasing, lively, melodic quartet, contrasting well in performance, and working perhaps unexpectedly well. The recital ends with a much later work, Bosch’s highly persuasive arrangement of Shostakovich’s Romance from The Gadfly.

This source invariably produces attractive booklets and provides good, not too over-resonant recorded sound. Mission accomplished on both counts here. Sung-Suk Kang is a most adept partner and Bosch himself proves once again to be in the grand line of Bass virtuosi.

Jonathan Woolf  




















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