By Mike Telin
Arts Renaissance Tremont pulled it off again. Each season the series organizers present at least one program that, on paper, seems so niche, so inside the inner-circles of classical music, that it causes you to wonder how many people this program is going to attract. On Sunday, November 23 in Pilgrim Congregational Church, ART treated a capacity audience to a brilliantly performed and entertaining concert by eight bassists of The Cleveland Orchestra.
The first half of the afternoon’s musically diverse program featured works for solo bass as well as bass and piano. Max Dimoff started things off with excellent performances of two works by Russian composer Reinhold Glière: Intermezzo, Op. 9, No. 1, and Scherzo, Op. 32, No. 2., both originally composed for the instrument. Dimoff negotiated their thorny technical passages with aplomb.
Scott Haigh followed with heartfelt performances of “Aburrido en Madrid” and “Tapas Perpetuas” from Bocadillos Iberianos. Composed by Haigh’s wife, Margaret Griebling-Haigh in 2005, the work was inspired by the couple’s honeymoon in Spain.
It’s always a pleasure to hear the music of Paul Hindemith, and Charles Carlton’s first-rate playing of his Sonata for Double Bass and Piano (1949) was a delight.
Two transcriptions of well-known works were also featured. Mark Atherton proved that Schumann’s Fantasy Pieces, Op. 73 can be just as musically satisfying when played on the bass as on violin, cello or clarinet. Derek Zadinsky’s performance of the first movement of Brahms’s Cello Sonata in E minor, Op. 38 brought the first half to a sensational close. Pianist Alicja Basinska was a consummate and sensitive partner throughout.
The first half also featured two works for solo bass. Complete with baroque bow, Scott Dixon’s mesmerizing playing of the Prelude, Sarabande and Minuetts I & II from Bach’s Cello Suite No. 2 in D minor held the audience in rapt silence. In complete contrast, Henry Peyrebrune drew hearty laughter during French-born American composer Elodie Lauten’s Sex and Pre Anti-Post Modernism (2002). Peyrebrune whimsically tossed off Lauten’s jabbing musical lines while enthusiastically reciting Michael Andre’s beatnik-style text.
The second half of the program was pure fun. Carleton, Dixon, Atherton and Zadinsky kicked things off with a quartet arrangement of Khachaturian’s Sabre Dance, with a little bit of Beethoven thrown in for good measure. Their energetic performance was followed by bass pedagogue François Rabbath’s Kobolds for Four Basses. Here the players dug into the work’s numerous extended techniques and relished the opportunity to bring out their inner percussionists.
Composer Hartmut Schmidt arranged his 1982 Walzer für Trude for bass quartet in 1996. Dimoff, Haigh and Peyrebrune were joined by their section colleague Tom Sperl in a magical performance of this charming work. The quartet continued with a delightful presentation of Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra principal bassist Boguslaw Furtok’s 3 Pieces for 4 Basses (2006).
Carleton and Zadinsky brought more humor to the stage during “Parade of the Politically Prudent Pigs” and “Kibbles & Kibitz” from bassist/composer David Anderson’s Seven Double Bass Duets. To wrap up the afternoon, Carleton and Zadinsky joined Dimoff, Dixon, Atherton and Sperl in a rousing performance of Christian Gentet’s Bass, Bass, Bass, Bass, Bass, Bass, for Bass Sextet. A perfect conclusion to an extraordinary afternoon of music.
Arts Renaissance Tremont continues its series on Monday, December 22 at 7:00 pm with an annual Holiday performance by Burning River Brass.
The Cleveland Orchestra Bass Quartet (Mark Atherton, Charles Carleton, Scott Dixon and Derek Zadinsky) will perform a free concert at the Beachwood Community Center at 2:00 pm on January 25, 2015.
Photo by Margi Griebling-Haigh via Facebook.
Published on ClevelandClassical.com December 2, 2014.
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