Centuries into its existence, the double bass still struggles to find broad acceptance as a solo instrument. Virtuosos on the instrument appear with increasing frequency, as do mainstream recordings of both "standard repertoire" and newly composed works. Each of these successful recordings represents another step for the instrument's quest for approval. This album, featuring bassist Jeremy Kurtz, may take the instrument forward by more than just one step. It all begins with Kurtz's choice of literature. Both the Anderson Sonata and the Prado Three Meditations, which Kurtz commissioned, take a different route than some modern pieces for the instrument. Rather than focusing on pushing the double bass to the extremes of technical virtuosity, they focus more on the bass' tonal strengths: the deep, punchy bottom and the melancholy mid-range. Sure, there are some pyrotechnics high up on the fingerboard, but these are not the primary focus. Wrapping up the program is a little-known Baroque sonata by Boismortier, which, though not originally written with the double bass in mind, seems right at home on the instrument. All of this wonderful programming would be for not if it weren't also for Kurtz's extremely warm, rich sound quality; his impeccable intonation; his reserved use of vibrato; and his ability to make his instrument truly sing. Joined by a group of attentive musicians who are sensitive to the bass' sometimes problematic balance issues, this album is certainly one for double bass enthusiasts and anyone who's interested in seeing just what the instrument can do.
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AllMusic Review by Mike D. Brownell
|Sonata for double bass & piano|
|Meditations (3), for double bass & piano|
|Sonata for bassoon & continuo in D major, Op. 50/3|