Red Mark Logo



Liben Music Publishers



Koussevitzky
Concerto for Double Bass and Piano
edited by David Walter

Perhaps the best-known piece for bass by a Russian composer, the Koussevitsky Concerto, is now available in a new edition published by Liben Music. Edited by Juilliard's Professor David Walter and dedicated to the memories of luthier Samuel Kolstein and his wife Frances, the carefully crafted new edition offers a number of advantages over the widely used International Edition (edited by Fred Zimmermann). In keeping with all of the Liben editions, the music is beautifully laid out in large fonts and with generous room for markings. The review copy arrived with piano parts in both orchestral and solo tuning. But after reading the notes to the edition, it appears that the work comes with an orchestra tuning piano part and that the solo tuning part is available on order. Most intriguing is the inclusion of a cadenza, written by David Walter, appearing towards the end of the third movement. According to the notes, Hungarian bassist Lajos Montag asked Koussevitsky, then conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, why he had not written a cadenza for his concerto. Koussevitsky suggested that Montag write his own. In the spirit of creative exploration, Mr. Walter has contributed a virtuosic cadenza, replete with thematic material, harmonics, scalar passages, pizzicato chords, arpeggios, and dramatically varying dynamics and tempi. Mr. Walter encourages performers to write their own cadenzas, but presents his own 1 as an option, and one that offers a charming cadenza "recipe."

Other, subtler differences between the Liben and International editions reflect current performance practices and will make the work easier to learn. One of the major difficulties younger students encounter when first learning this concerto is the presence of tenor clef. While the Liben edition does make use of tenor clef, it is used more sparingly, with treble and bass clefs more frequent and a limited use of ledger lines in anyone clef. Current performance trends are reflected in the choice of dynamic markings (such as the subito pp and crescendo markings in the first movement, and bowings and phrase markings (notable in the triplet lower-neighbor arpeggios in the first movement). The end of the second movement is presented in two ways, first as it appears in the Zimmermann edition and then an octave higher in natural harmonics, as Koussevitsky recorded the passage. Aside from the introduction of a cadenza, there are two pitch changes in the third movement. At the very end, the second movement's opening theme appears in G# minor two times after the sixteenth note runs. The top of the phrase is a high C# resolving to a lower G#. The repeated phrase adds a quarter note Bat the beginning of the bar and appears as a C to a G in the Liben edition, instead of the C# to G# in the earlier edition. Also, the bar of repeated high Es a few bars later appears as a whole note E in the Liben edition.

As the Koussevitsky is one of the most-played works in our repertoire, it is only fitting that one of our most esteemed artist-teachers prepare a new edition. Intelligently and artistically crafted, this new edition addresses many of the difficulties of the previous one, and thanks to David Walter's creative inspiration of adding a cadenza, offers performers the opportunity to add their own contemporary vision to Koussevitsky's creation.

Hans Sturm
Bass World


Catalog Information
Click to view or download a PDF sample of the Music

Koussevitzky

Concerto for Double Bass and Piano

Liben Music


At last! Here is a nicely printed edition of the Koussevitzky Concerto in orchestral tuning. No longer do the badly hand-copied versions need to be sureptitiously photocopied and passed from player to player.

It has been edited by senior bassist David Walter, who has also included an interesting preface, here printed at the back of the bass part, about the work, the tunings, possible cadenza and a short biography about Koussevitzky.

The music is nicely typeset and printed, using a bold and friendly music typeface, and should make many an accompanists job that much easier! The page turns in the bass part are all well conceived making this an excellent edition to use, and incorrect notes and phrasings in previous editions have been put right to take our most popular concerto confidently into the 21st century.

The editor has included his own cadenza in the last movement, but also gives handy hints about writing your own and notes ' your program's footnote "Cadenza by the performer" can be very impressive.'

My only criticism, and this is certainly not life or death, is that bass, tenor and treble clefs are still used when most of the music could have been kept to only treble and bass and our 'old favourite' - the tenor clef - could have been banished!

Max Christiansen
British and International Bass Forum


Catalog Information
Click to view or download a PDF sample of the Music
Koussevitzky

Four Pieces for Double Bass and Piano

Andante - Valse Miniature - Chanson Triste - Humoresque
Edited by David Walter


The Four Pieces by Koussevitsky are published together for the first time here. In completely reappraising both solo part and piano accompaniment, Walter unveils a coherent and finally complete salon suite. In editor's notes, Walter explains his grouping of adjacent pitches, where musically desirable, while separating those more than a second apart. To recognize the attraction of neighbouring notes means banishing the old-fashioned bow-to-a-bar orthodoxy.

Walter presents the lilting melody of the first piece, Andante, in varying strengths. Once a series of stepped dynamics and stringendi have reached a passionate climax, the brief cadenza that follows is extended all the way to a low D. After a reprise of the opening, the movement ends with high harmonics. In the opening of Valse Miniature, Walter emphasizes the syncopated rhythm by grouping the first six notes in two groups of three. An octave transposition in bar 42 provides an elegant alternative to the clunking drop of the original, and continuing the closing arpeggio at bar 113 makes for good music and theatre.

The piano introduction of Chanson Triste is revoiced and extended, allowing a complete bar for the preparatory dominant-seventh chord and creating symmetry with the following four-bar phrase. Walter's note groupings in the, bass part demand lyrical phrasing, and the plaintive, luminous melody achieves greater expression thanks to the sensitively pared-down and adjusted piano accompaniment. The modern notation of the cadenza makes Koussevitsky's intended accelerando clearer, and indicating senza vibrato at the recapitulation emphasizes a poignant ending.

If Chanson Triste has audiences crying into their absinthe, the impertinent cheerfulness of the concluding piece, Humoresque, will soon perk things up. The missing dynamics at the opening of the bass part can be found in the piano accompaniment; repetitions are contrasted mf-p. Even in the most lightweight of the four movements, Walter finds hidden nuances. The articulation of the last sixteenth note in bar 24 emphasizes its upbeat function; tempo variations give pace and structure, and prevent the arpeggiated motif from becoming cloying. The conclusion - andante followed by a prestissimo dash to the pizzicato open D ending - displays sheer effervescence.

Walter's unashamedly melodic philosophy, applied here as an editor, will encourage bassists to seek out the music within the notes.

Iain Crawford
Double Bassist

Click to view or download a PDF sample of the Music

A Family Album - Book 2

Double Bass solos by Bassist/Composers


The second book of the Family Album series, Frank Proto's collection of double bass solos composed by double bass performers, avoids any sign of a sophomore slump, maintaining a high level of quality throughout the nine pieces written by eight composer-performers. Book 2 expands on the original Family Album in breadth and scope by including two duets (one for two double basses, the other for double bass and violin) and several longer works. Bach to Blues by John Clayton is aptly titled. Clayton ingeniously alternates between a classical style idiom and a great blues groove. The entire piece is pizzicato, and, as Bach did in his works for unaccompanied instruments, Clayton gives the impression of contrapuntal lines throughout the piece, creating an illusion of a simultaneous melody and accompaniment.

David Anderson's Capriccio No. 2 for Solo Double Bass was the required solo piece for the 1997 ISB Convention at Rice University in Houston. It was very well received, and I am sure that many people will b~ delighted to find it published. The piece begins with a slow melody line coupled with open string doublestops. From this sonorous beginning, Capriccio gains momentum and intensity until it reaches a climatic end with rhythmically ferocious thirty-second notes.

The eminently creative Mark Dresser wrote one of the album's duets, Teppo for Two Double Basses. The written-down part is in several sections with a variety of textures, forming the head of the piece. After playing through this once, the two performers are then to use these musical materials to inspire a free improvisation, after which the written portion is played through again.

Michael Moore wrote the next two tunes, Moon Dog and When I Wage Battle Next. Moon Dog alternates between slow and fast sections. I really liked how Moore used the musical material in each section of this relatively short piece to unify the whole. Especially beautiful is the thematic transformation in the last section, where the monophonic melody is harmonized in double stops. When I Wage Battle Next is written in an A-B-A arch form, where the outer two sections are slower ad lib sections which contain a more energetic and rhythmic B section.

Silver Suite by Hans Sturm, comprised of three impressionistically titled movements, is probably one of the more technically demanding pieces in the volume. I know firsthand how strongly this piece can impact an audience because I was lucky enough to hear it performed a few years ago by the composer. The first movement, In the River's Reflection, starts slowly and gradually picks up momentum with quick chromatic, whole tone and augmented triad runs throughout the double bass's tessitura. This gradually calms down into a slower and softer section, which is nearly all in harmonics. The second movement, In a Baby's Laughter, is marked "lightly, playfully" and provides a lighter texture to the first movement. Hidden in the Clouds of Dreams 'is the last movement, and is more thickly textured and mysterious in nature.

Another suite follows, Eldon Obrecht's Suite for Double Bass, with five movements: Prelude, Allegretto, Capriccio, Song, Variation and Epilogue. Each of the movements is fairly short. I think that the greatest accomplishment of this music is Obrecht's ability to say a lot with an economy of musical material, giving the feeling that every note really matters.

Michael Cretu's Homeland for Violin and Double Bass is the second duet in the volume. It begins very slowly, with solo double bass playing a gypsy-Iike theme accompanying itself with open-string drones. The violin enters with the bass, continuing in the same slow tempo. In the second section, the tempo is increased and a groove is set. This section lets both instruments play around with a repeating figure before returning to the material of the first section, as if one were returning home from a journey.

The final piece by Peter Askim is Vital Signs for Solo Double Bass. This five-page, single-movement work is full of intensity and passion. When you have completed the piece, you feel as though you have completed an epic journey. "Wild, frenzied, urgent, intense, calm, intense, bursting, reflective, violent, animated, longing, inward, lullaby, breathlessly..." are a sampling of some of the composer's indications, which gives you an idea of what to expect on this wild ride.

A common thread throughout this volume is that the bass is used ingeniously in every piece to bring the music to life. Every composer represented here is also an accomplished performer, and as such, each is able to use the effects the double bass to maximum value. Although some of this music may appear difficult at fIrst glance, all of it is playable since each composer had to be able to play it. Several times while playing through these pieces I was surprised and excited by the sounds coming out of my instrument, and at the musical possibilities I had not considered before. I really enjoyed playing these pieces, and look forward to A Family Album: Book 3!

Sandor Ostlund
Bass World

Catalog Information

Click to view or download a PDF sample of the Music

A Family Album - Book 2

Various composers compiled by Frank Proto


The second volume of A Family Album is another compilation by Frank Proto. Not only is Proto one of the most prolific contributors to the bass repertoire, he is also dedicated to encouraging others to write for the instrument. Here, he offers a large volume of new music for the bass, covering a very wide range of styles.

The contributors are all well-known performers and writers for the bass. The book opens with John Clayton's Bach to Blues, a wonderful fusion of Bach and 20th-century jazz [see Free Music, Double Bassist no.12, Spring 2000]. David Anderson's Capriccio no.2 is a double-stop exercise and Mark Dresser's duet Zeppo makes extensive use of harmonics to good effect. Michael Moore contributes Moon Dog, a fantastically rhythmic piece with trademarks from one of the great names in jazz. Moore is also responsible for the next piece, When I Wage Battle Next.

Hans Sturms's three-movement Silver Suite is generally very lyrical in style, while Peter Askim s jazz oriented Vital Signs is a great display of chordal harmony. Eldon Obrecht, now 80, is the grandfather in this family album, contributing a Suite for Double Bass in six short movements. The violin and bass duet Homeland by Michael Cretu, founder of the Bucharest String Duo, is a pleasant contrast among all the solo bass music, as the colours of the violin are more varied than the bass, but complement it perfectly. Exciting and well-balanced, this is one of my favourites of the book alongside Moon Dog.

Each of these interesting and innovative pieces has its own personality, and just like a book of family portraits, we see contrasting images reflecting the featured personalities.

Corin Long
Double Bassist

Catalog Information

Click to view or download a PDF sample of the Music

A Family Album - Book 2

Solo Double Bass, Bass and Violin or Two Basses


A Family Album (Book 2) effectively brings together nine works for double bass in a variety of moods and styles, and all composed by performing bassists. Apart from Romanian Michael Cretu, all the composers are American and this volume gives a reasonable overview of some of the new solo bass music being written in America today.

Jazz bassist John Clayton contributed Bach to Blues, an effective pizzicato piece mixing classical and jazz styles. Capriccio No. 2 by David Anderson is in one movement but has six short distinct sections and enough rhythmic and melodic drive to interest both performer and audience. Zeppo by Mark Dresser is for two basses and has possibilities for improvisation alongside the written music. Primarily in pizzicato, there is plenty here to challenge. Michael Moore, one of America's leading jazz bassists, has contributed two short pieces. Moon Dog is in a rhapsodic jazz style and When I Wage Battle Next has some effective double stops. Silver Suite by Hans Strum is in three movements, uses the solo range well and is well worth tackling. Eldon Obrecht's Suite is in six short movements and effectively uses the range of the solo bass. Homeland by Michael Cretu is an excellent work and good addition to the duo repertoire. The solo bass is an equal partner to the violin and there is plenty here to keep both soloists happy. Worth buying for this work alone!

The most extended work in the book is Vital Signs by Peter Askim and is an advanced work, both in terms of technique and idiom, but is well worth the effort. Here is a very good and enjoyable book and a useful addition to the catalog. Recommended

Max Christiansen
Bass News. The British and International Bass Forum

Catalog Information

Click to view or download a PDF sample of the Music


A Family Album - Book 3 - The Walter Family

Double Bass solos by Bassist/Composers

Over the course of the last century, legacies in the United States have been created by double bass teachers and performers with names like Mensch, Scott, Zimmermann, Sankey, Walter and others. Liben Music Publishers has chosen to honour the contributions of one of these luminaries, David Walter, with the release of its third Family Album.

Appropriately subtitled, The Walter Family, it contains compositions by eleven Walter students for unaccompanied double bass. Like Liben's previous Family Albums these compositions are immediately appealing. Neither are the pieces too esoteric, musically abstract, or technically inaccessible as to relegate them to the filing cabinets rather than the music stands of most musicians.

Considering that the double bassists writing the music all sprang from the same source, or at least coun1 David Walter as a primary influence, the compositions' diversity is remarkable. Several contributions will strongly appeal to those not normally inclined towards modern music. Fred Bretschger's Etude Espanola, Anthony Scelba's Twist of Fate, Ron Wasserman's Ballet Fantasy, Victor Kioulaphidies' In Jubilo, and Victor Schipizky's Casa Mia are all as technically accessible as they are musically appealing. The similarity between the pieces ends there, however, since each is unique. Some are tonal, others atonal, some gracious and lyrical, others violent and declamatory. Additionally, Tony Flanga's wonderful jazz-influenced Dance of Joy encourages bassists to play the piece 'as an improvisation', completing an already diverse spectrum of music.

Bertram Turetzky's Three Doinas for David and Frank Proto's Lessons are written in the sort of musical language you would expect of these two well-known composers. Proto slyly interjects motives from Beethoven's symphonies in a clever musical reminiscence of lessons with Mr. Walter, and Turetzky writes with great passion and expression.

Other compositions are more atmospheric. Nico Abondolo's ethereal Two for David, Patrick Neher's extraordinary and passionate Reflet sur Cher, and Shinji Eshima's mystical If it's Tuesday, It must be Up-Bow, are as sophisticated and first-rate as they are evocative. The collection concludes with biographies of the composers, a two-page history of David Walter's life with pictures, and each piece includes short but beautiful dedications to David Walter by each of the composers.

Paul Sharpe
Double Bassist

Catalog Information

Click to view or download a PDF sample of the Music

A Family Album - Book 3 - The Walter Family

Unaccompanied Double Bass

Any new book from Frank Proto and Liben Music is always a welcome addition to the repertoire and Book 3 of his ongoing Family Album series is devoted to music written to celebrate David Walter's 90th birthday in early 2003. There are eleven pieces in various styles and idioms and, although the dedications are a little syrupy, ignore these and concentrate on some great music. Some are slight in terms of musical invention, but there is surely enough here to suit most tastes. The book is nicely produced with a preface by Frank Proto, a helpful biography of each composer alongside photographs of David Walter and a brief description of his life during his first ninety years.

Most of the pieces are only two pages long, none outstaying their welcome, and there are many which will have a dual life for both educational and recital use. Of particular interest are If it's Tuesday, It must be Up-bow (Shinji Eshima) - has much to say in a short space of time and creates wonderful atmospheric calm; Three Doinas for David (Bert Turetzky) has a flexible cadenza and rhapsodic-like feel with freedom for melodic and lyrical expression and Lessons (Frank Proto) is in two short movements and explores the whole range of the double bass, utilizing many aspects of technique. This is a book well worth exploring and there are many pieces worthy of further musical and technical study and is a great way to say Happy 90th Birthday to DW.

Max Christiansen
Bass News. The British and International Bass Forum

Catalog Information

Click to view or download a PDF sample of the Music

A Family Album - Book 3 - The Walter Family

Compositions by Abondolo, Bretschger, Eshima, Falanga, Kiolaphides, Neher, Proto, Scelba, Schipizky, Turetzky and Wasserman

David Walter recently celebrated his 90th birthday.Having taught at the Manhattan School for over thirty years and at the Juilliard School since 1969, David has touched the lives of as many aspiring bassists of all stripes as any other pedagogue. While this is not the place to go into Mr. Walter's distinguished career, suffice it to say that he was constantly driven by his own curiosity and shared this passion with his students. Publisher Frank Proto was one of those students who was goaded by David's persistent questions and took his questioning to heart. He too developed into a non-conformist. Is it any wonder then that eleven of David's former students continue to follow in his footsteps, performing, teaching, composing, yet each in their own way. The Walter Family Album is dedicated to the strong influence that David had on these bassists lives and contains eleven pieces for solo bass, each written for and dedicated to David.

While there is not room to discuss all eleven works, each is unique and is deserving of attention. Two of the works have ethnic flavors. Fred Bretschger submitted Etude Espanola. Marked Tempo di Fandango, the piece is written in the form of a minuet and trio. The piece is in 3/2 and has a strong Spanish flavor. Beginning with double stops in D phyrigian, the piece moves through detache eighth note melodies ending dramatically in G minor. Very accessible and fun to play, Espanola would make a great recital opener. Bert Turetzky contributed Three Donias for David, a donia being a brief freely played cadenza before a klezmer piece. The first, in D minor, begins with repeated high harmonic As that accelerates into a tremolo and then moves into the main recitativo section divided into three gestures. The first features descending triplets that accelerate into a low pizzicato. The second features an ascending line that crescendos into a high D harmonic. And the third is a long arching phrase that accelerates into a trill and then fades into a low pizzicato. The second donia is in two sections. The opening half, marked declamatory, is much like the first donia and is to be played in a free style, although in a more assertive manner. The second half of the piece is marked cantabile and is composed in a lilting melodic 3/8 G minor. The third donia is slightly more virtuosic than the first two. Marked molto espressivo, the piece features sextuplet sequences, some intricate string crossings, and a strong melodic flare.

Two of the pieces have a very gentle oriental improvisatory character. Shinji Eshima's If It's Tuesday, it must be Up-bow is a light-hearted free improvisatory work. Strummed pizzicato chords are followed by slurred harmonics duplets, fast runs, tremolos, and a subtle chant (Da Wa) above a quiet pedal. Nico Abondolo's Two for David were inspired by his experiments with a Chinese Gu-chin, a ten stringed fretless lute with a very soft tone. The first piece is an all pizzicato piece with continuously slow moving eighth notes alternating between pressed pitches, harmonics, and right hand pizzicato false harmonics. The second requires a scordatura tuning with the low E tuned down to a D. The piece is a slow moving work never reaching beyond piano, beginning with a broken pizzicato chord and moving into a ponticello melody. The mid-section features an improvisation above a ground bass line (the suggested scale is a chromatic scale with three omitted pitches F, Bb, and C#).

The other compositions include: a gorgeous impressionistic tone poem entitled Reflet sur Cher by Patrick Neher; Fredrick Schipizky's Spanish influenced Casa Mia; Anthony Scelba's chromatic variations on his name entitled Twist of Fate; Victor Kioulaphides' ecstatic In Jubilo; Tony Falanga's swinging pizzicato Dance of Joy; Ron Wasserman's extended waltz and variations entitled Ballet Fantasy; and Frank Proto's challenging Lessons.

Hans Sturm
Bass World

Catalog Information

Click to view or download a PDF sample of the Music