01 May 2013

Bottesini bass

I have the idea that I don’t like unaccompanied strings – strings en masse can strike my ear as shrill - but I thoroughly enjoyed the Limestone Consort the other day. They are just strings; one cello, two basses with violins and violas. There were a few times I found them a little edgy but mostly this was comfortable, nicely intoned, lyrical, and despite a few very popular pieces in the program, I didn’t find it uninteresting. I actually thought it was a really good mix of popular with less common and it was all attractive. Maybe it was the chatty introductions that turned tunes into historical expressions. The Mendelssohn sinfonia (no.7, Dmin) was a pretty straightforward work, but it gets a place in time when you realise he wrote it aged 12 or 13 and doubly so given that he died so young, in his late thirties. But I was really there for the Bottesini. Kyle Daniel was performing a double bass concerto (no.2, Bmin). It’s a starring piece for a bassist. The bass doesn’t get too much chance to feature, but it does here. Kyle played on a bass with solo tuning where the strings are one tone higher than standard. I wonder if it changes the fingering, of if the work is transposed to a different key with standard tuning. I’d heard fellow ANU student, Rohan Dasica, playing this piece several months before. Kyle thought Rohan’s was performed on standard tuning. I guess that means it’s transposed, so played in Amin. If not, fingering and harmonics would be mightily changed. Kyle mentioned Bel Canto in his introduction and this is certainly lyrical playing. It’s also high on the neck, to the harmonics two octaves up. It’s clearly challenging in performance but not at all in listening. This is pretty, nicely phrased, Italian music. Sweet and tuneful and quite unexpected from a double bass. The Consort also played some short works: Andante festivo from Sibelius, Faure’s Pavane and Grieg’s Death of Ase. Also a longer work from Holst, St Paul’s suite. I also noticed the fitting acoustics in All Saints: open and direct, nicely sized for a chamber ensemble and with a gentle but definite reverb. This was a lovely concert with a range of interesting material and that unusual Bottesini double bass piece.

The Limestone Consort were Lauren Davis (violin, leader), Toby Aan, Claire Phillips, Jacqueline Smith, Mia Stanton, Alison Giles (violins), Mitzy Pepper, Elysia Fisher (violas), Clara Teniswood (cello) and Kyle Daniel, Kinga Janiszewski (double basses). Kyle performed the Bottesini concerto.

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