23 November 2012

Last schooldays

Given work, I don’t attend many recitals, but I got to Rohan Dasika’s classical, licenciate recital. He played Bach, Bottesini and an intriguing-sounding modern piece called Failing. The Bach was his Cello suite no.3 played in Gmaj (rather than the original Cmaj). The bass is large and unwieldy, its range is limited and the fingering limits how and what can be played, so it’s a different exercise and an obvious challenge. I didn’t envy Rohan chasing up and down the fingerboard, but it was a valid technical exercise and I enjoyed it although I found it harder to follow than it would have been on cello. The Bottesini was his Concerto no.2 for double bass in Amin and it was much more fitting to the instrument. Bottesini was a bass virtuoso and his works for the bass are key to the repertoire and apparently this is his key standard work for the bass. I seen several Bottesini clips on YouTube but never heard a live performance. This was much more apt for the instrument. Lyrical, effective use of the full range of the instrument, lots of harmonics and playing to the extremes of the fingerboard, rich tones down low and rising arpeggios and a nice interplay with the accompanying piano. The last piece was anything but out of place for Rohan’s recital. Tom Johnson’s Failing: a very difficult piece for solo string bass has the performer speaking while playing and talking about this very activity: easy at first, then getting harder; will he fail, or choose to fail and then essentially succeed; don’t all performances involve some failure. The accompanying music moved from lyrical to devilishly chromatic and the speaking moved from reading to improvised. Only Rohan will know where or how he failed (he certainly didn’t fall in a heap) but it suited his zany virtuosity. Great fun and much enjoyed. I have no idea how this performance would go over with examiners. The works were challenging. I noticed some technical slips and his face was variously mobile with pleasure and pain, but this was intriguing and engaging and entertaining and even humourous and for a solo double bass concert, I can only imagine that is exceptional. Well done, Rohan. Rohan Dasika (double bass) presented his third year recital. He was accompanied by Kylie Loveland (piano) for the Bottesini.

While in the building, I also caught the week-long lunchtime performance called Elevator #1. It’s percussion on a 36” concert bass drum in the lift at the Music School. I only heard the first few minutes and beats, written as crochet-rest-repeat, played with one mallet, then adding a second. The lift went up and down; the doors opened; visitors entered and left; it was loud. I was hearing the drum later, down a corridor, presumably when the lift door opened. I expect it’s a valid comment on the changes at the school (sounding all the world like a funeral procession at the start). I would like to hear the development over an hour, even over the week, but my ears wouldn’t be up to it. This is a small space and the big skin and beater is a loud combination. But it’s worthy and I’m glad I’ve seen it, if only for a few minutes and only in the earliest moments of musical development for that day. Austin Bucket composed and conceived the piece and William Jackson (percussion) performed it.

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