Leon Bosch

The British Double Bass

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The British Double Bass Review

by Mike D. Brownell

As bassist Leon Bosch mentions (repeatedly) in his liner notes, the double bass is most assuredly a "Cinderella instrument." Works for the bass are a hard sell, not because they are of inferior quality or because the bass cannot hold its own as a solo instrument, but because these qualities are perceived to be true. On his album The British Double Bass, Bosch seeks to break this unfair stereotype and, to continue the metaphor, take the double bass to the ball. The selection of repertoire for the album is startling in its variety and abundance: 10 pieces in all, each by a different British composer. Nine of these have never been recorded. Each of the compositions is entirely accessible to listeners, with the overriding musical feeling leaning toward the romantic and melancholy. Seldom do the pieces display virtuosity for the sake of virtuosity. Throughout the album, Bosch proves himself to be extremely technically proficient and musically sensitive. The main problem here -- which is so often a difficulty in recordings of the double bass -- is sound projection. Bosch's magnificent Gagliano instrument likely produces a deep, penetrating sound in live performance, but has difficulty producing a clear, clean, sound on recordings. Even when playing unaccompanied, it's sometimes difficult to hear Bosch's lower and middle registers, and articulation of individual notes is often lost to a wash of sound. Still, the introduction of these pieces to listeners more than makes up for shortcomings in recorded sound quality. Just be prepared to crank the volume and listen closely.

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