Solos for Unaccompanied Double Bass
Michal Bylina – I Pensieri
“To many of us Leonardo da Vinci is a man veiled in mystery. Nowadays there are many ideas of hidden messages in his works which I guess we’ll never understand. Are they genuine? Did he possibly want to transmit something important for humanity? Did he know something which was prohibited to tell? Questions of this type led me to write a cycle of three pieces for unaccompanied bass called ‘I Pensieri’ which in Italian stands for ‘thoughts’. Yet every one of them bears a message, a hidden thought of Signor da Vinci. To quote the grand inventor: “The noblest pleasure is the joy of understanding”. [Michal Bylina]
PREMIERE: Saturday 4 May 2019 at St Margaret’s Church, Hinton Blewett, Somerset by Dritan Gani (double bass)
Leonardo da Vinci (15 April 1452 – 2 May 1519) was an Italian polymath of the Renaissance whose areas of interest included invention, painting, sculpting, architecture, science, music, mathematics, engineering, literature, anatomy, geology, astronomy, botany, writing, history, and cartography. He is widely considered to be one of the greatest painters of all time and is credited with inventing the parachute, helicopter, and tank. Many historians and scholars regard Leonardo as a unique ‘Renaissance Man’ and he is widely considered one of the most diversely talented individuals ever to have lived. DA VINCI 500 was an international project bringing together composers to write a work for unaccompanied double bass to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the death of Leonardo da Vinci.
Michal Bylina – Syrinx
2018 marked the centenary of the death of the great French composer Claude Debussy (1862-1918) and the ‘Syrinx Project’ was an international initiative inviting composers to write a new work for unaccompanied double bass, lasting around three minutes, and inspired in some way by Debussy’s masterpiece Syrinx for solo flute. Inspired and directed by David Heyes, the ‘Syrinx Project’ brought together 27 composers from across the world with the aim of creating an exciting year-long programme of commissions, performances and recordings.
Michal Bylina writes: “Syrinx or Pan’s Lament describes Pan’s feelings immediately after Syrinx’s transformation into a hollow water reed. Having lost his desired nymph, his heart is now filled with sadness, suffering and sense of powerlessness. Therefore, he decides to cut the reeds and make pan pipes to play a haunting, doleful tune that express his yearning. The piece was written for the ‘Syrinx Project’ directed by David Heyes and commemorates the 100th anniversary of the death of Claude Debussy. Mostly inspired by impressionists such as Debussy, this offers a journey into the magical whole tone world. Syrinx starts with sorrowful harmonics that are followed by a lyrical melody developing the feeling of loneliness. Atmospheric, extemporaneous, mysterious, fugacious, makes use of techniques like sul ponticello or pizzicato. Actually, these two close quietly the lonesome soliloquy making an impression as if a spell has just ended.” The first chord is played in low thumb position – with the thumb on octave G and the F# as a false harmonic on the D string, where you would play F#, played with the 2nd or 3rd finger.
PREMIERE: Sunday 18 February 2018 at Trumpington Village Hall (Cambridge, UK) by David Heyes (double bass)
Michal Bylina – Bertlude
American bassist-composer Bertram Turetzky celebrated his 85th birthday on 14 February 2018. He is a pioneer of contemporary repertoire for double bass, commissioning more than 300 works for the instrument, and is a true legend in the double bass community. A TURETZKY TRIBUTE was an international project bringing together composers from around the world to write a piece to celebrate the birthday of this iconic figure in the bass world.
Michal Bylina writes: “I have always had much respect for modern music bassists who didn’t break with tradition and, what’s more, performed the old classical repertoire as well. For me, one of the finest examples of such a person is Bertram Turetzky, who not only is an important figure in the modern history of the double bass, but also made quite a few recordings of classical music which I cherish.
The first time I heard a haunting melody of Dragonetti’s Adagio from Solo no 8 was when I was listening to Bert’s CD. “Bertlude” is a tribute from a double bassist in love with tradition to another. It is written in the late renaissance style and echoes the music of Valentin Bakfark, Tobias Hume and Jakub Polak. The performer here has to play as if he played the lute, imitating polyphony, playing steady chords.”
PREMIERE: Sunday 4 November 2018 at Wells Cathedral School (Somerset, UK) by David Heyes (double bass)