Concerto for double-bass and orchestra
Arslanian, Artin Samuel
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The Concerto in E minor for Double-bass and Orchestra is the result of much experimentation by the composer. The double-bass is an instrument which does not easily lend itself to use in a solo idiom. In order to treat the instrument soloistically one must take it out of its most characteristic register and place it much higher than its orchestral handling would demand. An extreme orchestral written range for the doublebass would include notes extending from E up to c''; the solo in the present work uses a written range extending from E up to a''. In regard to form the first movement of the Concerto is in the usual sonata form as revised for concerto use. It opens with an introduction which consists partially of free passage work for the solo. The introduction, in addition to opening the movement, is also the chief source for most of the main thematic material which appears later in the movement. The single exposition is shared by both the solo and the orchestra with the principal theme introduced by the solo. After a brief transition to the subdominant key the subsidiary theme appears in the orchestra. The solo does not play the subsidiary theme in the exposition and the section is brought to a close by the orchestra. The development section consists mainly of interplay between the solo and the orchestra on motives from the principal theme. The recapitulation is similar to the exposition with one exception; the subsidiary theme, now in E major, is in the solo. The cadenza appears at the end of the recapitulation and the movement is brought to a close with a short orchestral coda. The second movement of the concerto is set in a rather unorthodox form. Its closest legitimate form would be a set of variations; in this case the variations are not upon a theme, but rather upon a mood and a harmony. The mood and harmonic structure are established at the start of the movement. In each of the subsequent eight sections the mood is varied and the harmonic structure altered, each time leading the solo into more remote orchestral and tonal regions. The most different mood occurs in the middle of the movement, from which point the level of the movement sinks once again to the sombre color of the beginning. The solo passages in this movement are both lyric and exhibitionistic; however, neither one predominates. The third and final movement is in a three part A-B-A form. The first part consists of a principal and a subsidiary theme, both of which are introduced by the solo. The middle section consists of a fugal texture, the subject of which is based upon the principal theme of the first part. This fugato presents the subject in three voices, and leads directly into the transition section, which in turn leads into the third part. In the second A section the principal theme is omitted and the solo plays the second theme. The third movement cadenza appears at the end of the third part, and upon its completion both the solo and the orchestra bring the movement to a close with a long coda. As compared to the solo work available to performers on other instruments, the double-bass literature of today is pitifully small, and certainly quite inadequate for the increasing number of competent performers. Due to the demanding nature of music written, today the standard of the orchestral double-bass player has become much higher. Many of these players are soloists in their own right. Their execution on the instrument has become just as polished and just as fine as that of other soloists and performers. Yet they do not share the same availability of good music that the others have. It is hoped that this concerto will do its share in enlarging the literature of this long neglected instrument.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--Boston University
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