Notes and Editorial Reviews
Bass Sonata. Cello Sonatas: No. 1; No. 2. Fantasy for Double Bass and Piano. Bagatelles for Cello and Double Bass
Nabil Shehata (db);
Oliver Triendl (pn);
Martin Ostertag (vc)
THOROFON 2529 (72:50)
The last surviving pupil of Paul Hindemith honors his teacher well. This collection of chamber music for low strings displays a strong classical sense of
line and structure, as well as careful craft. Harald Genzmer has expressed a particular affinity for these instruments, especially the double bass. He writes well for it, finding, especially in the sonata, an idiomatic feel for the weight and sonority of the instrument. There is none of the galumphing elephant music here, but rather, a surprising agility, and most importantly, a lyricism well matched to the sensuous deep tone. That said, Genzmer shares with Hindemith a tendency towards stodginess. The Fantasy for Double Bass and Piano, for example, is filled with clever gestures and elegant counterpoint, but doesn’t feel much like a fantasy—the parts do not make the whole. The two cello sonatas are, likewise, admirably crafted, and replete with enough delightful textural flourishes to carry the music to the other side of ordinary.
The piece that breaks from the academic mold is the set of six Bagatelles for Cello and Double Bass from 1985. Again, the ear is tickled by Genzmer’s consummate technical virtuosity, but in this case, this skill is found in a much freer, even whimsical context. All the bagatelles—save the last one, which is four and half minutes—are short, only a minute or two, which lends them a sense of concision. They have a folksy and playful quality that is intensified by the unusual combination of timbres. This cello and bass combo has an interplay resembling a couple of old friends having an animated conversation, no doubt over a few glasses of pilsner.
Thorofon can be counted upon for first-rate production values, starting with committed, remarkably facile playing (pianist Triendl, in particular, is a champion of Genzmer and has recorded solo piano music for Thorofon). Recorded sound is superb, and the extensive program notes are very informative. My few reservations aside, this is a fine representation of the postwar conservative German school, and should be a complete treat for fans of the double bass.
FANFARE: Peter Burwasser
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