Music / “Concertino for Double Bass”, Limestone Consort, St Paul’s Church, Manuka, August 11. Reviewed by ROB KENNEDY.
LARGE and low-pitched and commonly seen in modern symphony orchestras, the double bass is also at home in jazz clubs but rarely used as a solo or frontline instrument. However, Limestone Consort showed just how versatile the bass can be.
This concert featured Kyle Ramsay-Daniel performing Lars-Erik Larsson’s “Concertino for Double Bass and String Orchestra”, and works by Reger, Vivaldi and Graupner, plus Canberra’s newest harpsichord was also present.
Also performing in the consort was, Lauren Davis and Claire Phillips on the violin; Iska Sampson on the viola; Clara Teniswood on the cello; and James Porteous on the harpsichord.
Beginning with Vivaldi’s “Concerto in C Major” RV 110, the six players sounded more like a much larger ensemble because of the double bass. The opening flourishes of the allegro were played sprightly and with warmth, even though it was so cold in the church and it snowed in Manuka the night before. The three short movements made for a bright and delightful opening, and it was played with exceptional clarity and spirit.
German composer Christoph Graupner (1683-1760) who was a contemporary of Bach wrote his “Entrata per la Musica di Tavola” in G major around 1733. Over its seven movements, it had echoes of Vivaldi, subtle lightness and profound gravity. The whole consort played with clarity and balance through this splendid baroque piece.
Another German composer, Max Reger (1873-1916) wrote his sublime dream of love “Lyrische Andante” about someone dear to him. This emotional and dream-like short piece is a favourite as a concert hall encore and the consort did it great justice.
The “Concertino for Double Bass and String Orchestra” by Swedish composer Lars-Erik Larsson is a piece that shows off the beautiful singing voice of the double bass. This contemporary sounding work, which is full of passion is contrasted by its lightness and darkness.
Kyle Ramsay-Daniel is an energetic and bright performer. He gets so involved in his music that he even conducts himself when not playing. His enthusiasm and ability brought this stunning work alive with colour and emotion. The Arioso sang with sadness and beauty. Perhaps even hymn-like it expressed delight and sorrow in equal amounts.
The finale had virtuosic moments and needed a lot of fire and movement up and down the fingerboard. Ramsay-Daniel had to lean right over the shoulders of his instrument, and he played his heart out. What a delight this Concertino and the whole concert was. The Limestone consort was fully on song and played the best this reviewer has heard them perform.
But the concert wasn’t over. Ramsay-Daniel hit the audience with a solo encore, the “Cappricco” No. 2 by American composer Dave Anderson, who is principal bass of the Louisiana Philharmonic. This driving and brilliant work, which could have been inspired by Led Zeppelin, Ramsay-Daniel handled with assurance even though it was technically rigorous and a musical challenge. This amazing performance capped off a riveting concert.