Bass Blog

Michael Hovnanian formerly played bass with an orchestra located in a large midwestern city.

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Saturday, May 14, 2011

Marcello Sonatas recording project part 08

The joke about Vivaldi – that he wrote the same concerto a hundred times – might, at first glance, apply to these six sonatas. On closer inspection, they each reveal their individual characteristics, and none seems more idiosyncratic than the 4th movement of the sonata no. 2. The marking of Andante is unique for this set, and, I think, unusual for one of the 'fast' movements of a Baroque Sonata. But this seems to fit with my feeling that the tempos of the final movements should be somewhat slower than the second movements, which I've arrived at through nothing more (or less, I suppose) than my own intuition and a bunch of listening.

The slurs are also an intriguing feature of this movement. The bass arrangement I have seen most often, and from which I began learning this Sonata, mostly follows the pattern of three notes slurred, three notes separate, which gives an interesting 'three against two' feel. When I first got hold of the facsimile, the slurring was a matter for no small amount of consternation, since I was loath to change the way I had been playing, and the intent of the markings in the source seemed somewhat unclear. I fantasized about confronting the copyist, grabbing him by the lapels and asking why the heck he didn't make the markings a little more clear.

The slurs as marked make for some pretty awkward string crossings and shifts, but after speaking to a cellist, who informed me that although they were pretty unwieldy on the cello as well, he would still try to follow them, I decided to bite the bullet and try as well. As with many things, although I hated those slurs at first, I eventually became very fond of them. They fit with the overall quirkiness of the movement, and as is often the case, trying to impose some sort of false uniformity onto the music is not always the best course.

some examples from the facsimile (scribbled measure numbers, mine):

looked like this in the edition for double bass:

click below to listen


Daniel said...

Michael, I'm blown away by these recordings. Bravo! I haven't gotten around to checking your blog for quite some time, so I just listened to them as I read your blogs -- in reverse order (isn't that how blogs are read?) I'm not sure non-bass players can appreciate the amount of work involved in preparing this music on the bass. Or if it's easy for you, I don't want to know it.

Michael Hovnanian said...

Thanks for listening. Hopefully most people realize that everything - from packing up and carrying the instrument to the gig - is more difficult for the bass.