Sightreading for August 15

Interested in what we might look at tonight? Here’s a partial list:

  • Teppo Hauto-Aho’s Two Dances
  • Patrick Neher’s Danny’s Bass Camp
  • Carolyn White’s classical/romantic collection for bass quartet, volume II
  • Joel DiBartolo’s arrangement of four Elizabethan Trios
  • Klaus Stoll’s transcription of Ortiz’ Madrigal, Canción e Recercada
  • Carolyn White’s arrangement of Dittersdorf’s Notturno
  • Klaus Trumpf’s arrangement of Bottesini’s Passione amorosa
  • Klaus Trumpf’s arrangement of Paganini’s Moses-Phantasie
  • Michael Cameron’s arrangement of Orlando’s Three Chansons
  • … the list goes on.

Needless to say, that’s a lot and we probably won’t get through it all. And in writing this, I realize that I’m leaning heavily on transcriptions and arrangements (stuff I bought at the ISB Convention), although I have several modern works that have been sent to me by friendly composers. These are on my computer as .pdf files–I will have to make time to print at least one or two of them before rushing off tonight.

What we Actually Did (an update on August 16)

As the leader of this group, I would have liked to prepare the parts and get them to people a week before a session like this. Obviously that didn’t happen. But nonetheless, John Tuck, Anton Hatwich and Beth Zaluba did me a great favor in charging ahead with this, and we had some fun as well. Here’s the list of what we actually read through and my quick notes:

  • The Teddy Bear’s Picnic: Bass Quartet by Denny Berthiaume. This is an arrangement Denny made for my friend Steven Auerbach. It’s a bit dense, being in a low-ish register, with all but the lowest voice playing pizzicato. This is a reflection of Denny’s taste as a jazz pianist (Check out the very cool group, TRIO, with my friend Mickey McPhillips on bass). It may need some rethinking, though, as the arco part tends to overwhelm the pizz. I’m hoping that Denny will expand this piece, as it could be fun to use as lighter material and/or for concerts in schools.
  • Notturno by Karl Ditters von Dittersdorf, arrangement by Carolyn White. This feels like quite a nice arrangement — Anton commented that Carolyn’s arrangements are well-balanced and transparent. Dittersdorf has a reputation a something of a lightweight–at least he doesn’t always meet with universal acclaim among bassists–but I think this arrangement will be a good addition to our repertoire for lighter or classical sets.
  • Moses-Phantasie from Nicolò Paganini arranged by Klaus Trumpf for Bassiona Amorosa. Those who know who Bassiona Amorosa is will nod understandingly when I say that we did not successfully sightread this piece in its entirety. No surprise, as it’s a virtuoso showpiece for a single bassist; this arrangement gives the solo line to all four players in turn. Meanwhile the piano accompaniment is replaced by the other members of the quartet. It will be a lot of fun to work this up sometime in the future.
  • Three Chansons by Orlando de Lassus, arranged by Michael Cameron. Music from the Renaissance really works so well for double basses. These are fun to play, with gorgeous harmony and polyphonic interaction. As there are limited or no tempo markings and dynamics and articulations are additions by the editor, Cameron encourages experimentation. I look forward to doing that as we move forward with these pieces.
  • A set of short arrangements entitled Františkoviny pro kontabasové kvarteto curated, if not arranged by Miloslav Gajdoš for the Bass Club of Kroméríž (pardon me if I’ve got those diacritical marks confused). Several of these are going to be good lightweight material, perhaps even light encores. But even for that purpose, I wish the arrangement of Eleanor Rigby developed the material a little bit, and that Moon River and Theme from Forrest Gump were either shorter or did more to develop the music. I have a hunch that these are student arrangements. Usable, in the right context.
  • Three Spanish Motets by Tomas Luis de Victoria, arrangement by Michael Cameron. See my notes about the Three Chansons above — these will definitely be demanding in terms of tuning and musicality. They’ll be easily overplayed if we get too wrapped up in our own sounds (all that orchestral section playing, you know) and overwhelm the music with bow pressure.
All in all, this was a successful reading session. I got what I needed: a sense for how these pieces sounded, so I can program the appropriately. And I reconnected with a few of my friends (Beth, in particular, seems to have a wealth of great stories about the bass scene in Chicago, having spent some of her life with Pete Zaluba), and got some material for this blog, all at the same time.
If you’re a bassist, and would like to be involved in our next reading session, whether as a player or just a listener; or if you’re a composer who would like us to read through something you’ve written, long or short, please don’t hesitate to drop me a line using the contact form here on the Chicago Bass Ensemble website.

One Response to “Sightreading for August 15”

  1. Jacque says:

    I’m scheduling our next reading session! If you are a bass player, in the Chicago area, and you’d like to join us, add a comment here (button below) or via our contact form and I’ll send you a link to the schedule tool. Be sure to include your e-mail address (I’ll strip it out before approving the comment, so you don’t get spammed).

Leave a Reply