Copland: Sonata for violin & piano; Brahms: Cello Sonata No. 1

Volkan Orhon

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Copland: Sonata for violin & piano; Brahms: Cello Sonata No. 1 Review

by Mike D. Brownell

With its overall neglect by composers prior to the twentieth century, the double bass has almost always had to turn to the dubious art of transcribing works from other instruments for concert performance. Increasingly, these transcriptions are coming not only from other "bass clef" instruments like the cello or bassoon, but also from "high-pitched" brethren. The success of any transcription comes from two fronts. The first is the transcription itself; particularly for the double bass, it is generally not enough to simply put a bass clef in front of a piece of music and call it transcribed. The double bass has a great many technical considerations that must be addressed so that the finished product sounds idiomatic to the instrument. The second front is the performance itself, which must pull off the difficult task of making the composition sound as if it was intended to be played on the double bass. For the Brahms First Cello Sonata, little in the way of transcription is needed. Any bass player will happily recall that Brahms' father was a bassist and use this fact to support frequent use of the cello sonata as their own. On this particular recording, bassist Volkan Orhon changes precious little in his interpretation of this brooding work. His sound quality is quite appealing; even in the highest registers of the piece, nothing ever sounds forced. Indeed, Orhon succeeds in making this work seem as it was intended to be played on his instrument. Also on this CDs is Copland's Violin Sonata, transcribed for bass by the venerable Gary Karr. The relative infrequence with which this sonata is played on the violin helps this transcription's believability on the bass. Orhon again delivers with a warm, deep sound that is still focused across the range of the instrument. There are a few missed shifts throughout, but his musicality and beautiful tone win out to make this album worthwhile.

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