Reading Session – October 2012

Getting ready for a reading session this late afternoon – John Floeter, Josh Harrison, Hans Peterman, and I, possibly joined by Anton Hatwich, are getting together to read through some of the music that I’ve been acquiring.

I’m particularly interested to have a go at a couple of pieces that I had a hand in commissioning: Tony Osborne’s Rocket Man and Harrison’s Clocks were both completed earlier this year. (I had hoped to premiere Harrison’s Clocks at the Make Music Chicago event, but that was not to be.)

Other stuff I’ve got in my hands for tonight:

  • Two Bach fugues arranged by Joel DiBartolo
  • Four Elizabethan trios also arranged by Joel DiBartolo
  • Paganini’s Moses Fantasy and François Rabbath’s Kobolds arranged by Klaus Trumpf
  • Madrigal, Cancíon e Recercada by Diego Ortiz, arranged by Klaus Stoll
  • Mozart’s Adagio K. 411 arranged by Carolyn White
  • Ron Wasserman’s Pieces for Basses
  • Paul Ramsier’s Lullaby

I’ll write up some comments below after we’re done!


Alright, we had a good reading session. Well done all around – thanks Josh, John and Hans for coming out!

We started off with Lullaby by Paul Ramsier. Paul had sent me a copy of this piece a while back, saying that it’s been recorded for solo bass on small orchestra, but that the original conception of it was for bass quartet. It’s a very lovely short piece. We read it well enough that I switched on my Zoom H4 recorder, so that we could send the composer a recording. Doubtful the performance was so good that we’d publish it, though. It won’t take too much work, however, to make this piece ready for a performance.

Next we took on Harrison’s Clocks. I enjoyed this piece very much. It feels like good writing for basses, and I think it will be quite approachable for audiences. (At this point in our reading session, the rest of the guys were starting to think I was cheating: I had told them that we were literally reading cold — no preparation, but in fact I had been working a little bit on both these pieces earlier in the year. And even though we drew straws (figuratively) for part assignment, I had the bass 1 part for both, and since I wasn’t really sight reading, I sounded better than I should have.)

Then we had a go at Rocket Man. Since these two pieces were composed at about the same time, earlier this year, it should be no surprise that they had a certain feel in common. In particular, the opening chords felt very much the same. That felt a bit funny (didn’t we just play this?) but as we went along, the challenges presented by Rocket Man were clearly different. I won’t program them back to back, and maybe not even on the same performance. But I look forward to performing both.

Just to wind down, we pulled up one of the two Bach fugues (Number 5 from the Well-Tempered Clavier). Ah, Bach. So deceptively simple looking, so rich and hard to play in a truly musical way. We barreled through our first time, but it became clear at the end that we were. not. together. We looked it over a bit, realizing that the entrances of the fugue subject were not always in the same place in the bar, and that the stretto was particularly “uneven,” and had another go. This time we were able to end on together (hooray). But at the same time, it was clear that we had not realized anywhere near the music that is in that piece. I’ve been there before.

We wrapped up after that. About two hours of good work, reading through music, and enjoying the opportunity to play together. We’ll plan to do it again soon. There’s plenty of music left!


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