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Liben Music Publishers

Frank Proto
Concerto No. 3
for Double Bass and Orchestra

Four Scenes after Picasso
Piano Reduction

In this major work for bass and orchestra completed in 1997, Frank Proto uses as inspiration four Picasso paintings dating from the Spanish Civil War and the Second World War.

Proto first views Cat Catching a Bird, painted in 1939, a disturbing depiction of a smug, fat cat with a torn and bleeding bird in its teeth. Although successful in a purely musical sense, Proto's interpretation of the painting also invites the listener to look for its most obvious programmatic elements, such as the tension of stealth and the bird's capture. Opening with bird-like twitterings in the solo bass part establishes character representation, although this becomes more muted as the movement progresses. An improvised cadenza between snare drum and the soloist, with the orchestra gradually enveloping and ultimately obliterating the soloist, reveals the militaristic references of the painting, perhaps of Franco, who took Madrid that previous March or, in the composer's view, of Hitler.

Weeping Woman is one of a series of paintings, drawings and etchings created in September and October of 1937, first seen in the monumental mural Guernica, this figure may represent the volatile nature of Picasso's lover Dora Maar and the turmoil of their relationship, while also referring to the massacres taking place in the Spanish Civil War. Proto focuses on the subject's desperate sadness in a solo oboe introduction, subsequently taken up and developed by the bass, while the gently surginging accompaniment creates an other-worldly atmosphere.

That the increasingly political Picasso managed to live and work in Nazi-occupied Paris, albeit with no major public displays, was testament to his standing. In a city gripped by fear and paranoia, the artist regularly held court in his favourite cafe, which for him remained magically unaffected by rationing, and clearly enjoyed lighter moments. In what could have been a relentlessly grim representation of disturbed emotion and the horror of war, the humour of First Steps comes as a relief. This portrait of Picasso's maid and here baby, who is just starting to walk, inspires some at first tentative, then recklessly whirling and dancing music. An inveterate lover of the blues, Proto includes a lush central passage of false harmonics and sensuous pitch bending.

In muted blacks and shades of grey, The Charnel House tells of the depths of inhumanity reached by the war's conclusion, as reports of death camps and industrialised slaughter finally began to filter through to the general public. Proto's frantic opening is a brief moment of shock, before lamentation begins in the bassoon and lower strings. A bewildered, questioning solo bass part is paired hauntingly with off-stage oboe in the bleak, chilling conclusion. A reprise of the first movement's bird figure, with muffled bass drum rumbling ominously underneath, serves as a sad commentary on the conflicted and bloody nature of our world more than 50 years on.

This edition is in Orchestra Tuning. A Solo Tuning edition is also available.

Iain Crawford
Double Bassist


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World Premiere Recording


Frank Proto
Concerto No. 2
for Double Bass and Orchestra

Piano Reduction

As several of Frank Proto's works dating from the 1980s leave their teenage years behind, the composer has transformed them into sparkling, beautiful new incarnations of their former selves.

Dedicated to François Rabbath, Concerto No. 2 dates from 1982. Proto's intimate knowledge of his Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra colleagues' musical abilities and experiences allowed him the freedom to feature elements of jazz style in the orchestral accompaniment, with swung and improvised sections. Virtuosity and improvisation skills are certainly asked of the soloist, but as with all of Proto's music before and since, every note is intuitive and playable. In any piano reduction textural intentions, especially those in atmospheric percussion passages can easily get lost. However others, includine some unusual brass passages and a clever duet featuring bass harmonics and flutes, which illustrate Proto's fluency of colour and timbre, manage to come through nicely. Usefully, in the solo part accompaniment cues are often given indicating their full-score instrumentation. In this new edition the piano and orchestral parts are available in solo and orchestral tuning.

Iain Crawford
Double Bassist


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To Red Mark Recording featuring François Rabbath

Frank Proto
Concerto No. 2
for Double Bass and Orchestra

Piano Reduction

Since it was begun in 1966, Liben Music Publishers has been at the forefront of providing quality editions of original compositions and transcriptions to the the bass world. It boasts an impressive catalog of concertos, solos, and chamber music. The brainchild of bassist/composer Frank Proto, the catalog consists mostly of his compositions, although a few other composers are represented. Liben Music Publishers is currently celebrating its 40th anniversary with the release of several new editions, many of which were previously available only as 'print-to-order.' The rich and fruitful association between Frank Proto and bass virtuoso François Rabbath is well represented in the catalog and several of these new releases were written for Rabbath.

These editions are clearly printed on sturdy, bright white paper and each has a distinctive and colorful cover. Page turns are generally well thought out. All of the bass parts are very clean - they do not include any fingerings or bowings.

*****

The four-movement Concerto No. 2 is scored for full orchestra. It was commissioned in 1982 for the Cincinnati Symphony by Marion Rawson and is dedicated to Marion Rawson and François Rabbath. One would expect that any concerto written for François Rabbath would be technically demanding and Concerto No. 2 does not disappoint. Soaring melodies, extensive double stops, artificial harmonics, improvisation, quartertones - the work is a tour de force. Equally at home in the jazz and classical worlds, this concerto has parts that swing, parts that are "legit," and parts that are improvised. Of course, any piano reduction is lacking in orchestral color, but this allows one to focus on the 'bones' of the composition - its harmonies and structure. This piano reduction is in orchestra tuning. A solo tuning reduction is also available. A recording of Concerto No. 2 for Double Bass and Orchestra is available on Red Mark CD-9204.

Robert Black
Bass World


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To Red Mark Recording featuring François Rabbath

Frank Proto
Fantasy
for Double Bass and Orchestra

Piano Reduction

The updated Fantasy for Double Bass and Orchestra is barely recognisable from the old yellow spiral-bound 1983 version I still own. Commissioned by the Houston Symphony after the success of Concerto No. 2, Fantasy's scoring already hints at non-classical leanings: a pair of flutes, one doubling piccolo and alto flute, harp, piano, strings and four percussionists, including a tabla or dombec player with the ability to improvise. Smaller in scale than Concerto No. 2, this two-movement work contrasts sensuous melodic writing in the first with breathtakingly fast passagework in the second, culminating in an improvised, hypnotic duet with the hand-drummer. This attractive new edition once again makes available both piano accompaniment and score in solo and orchestral tuning.

With these meticulously-crafted new editions Proto issues a compelling invitation to revisit old haunts; for initiates this may be an unfamiliar world without stylistc barriers and the spoon-fed certainties of 'classical' concertos. Rabbath's inspired performances of both the Concerto No. 2 and the Fantasy are available on Red Mark CD 9204, which also features Proto's A Carmen Fantasy for double bass and orchestra.

Iain Crawford
Double Bassist


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To Red Mark Recording featuring François Rabbath

Frank Proto
Fantasy
for Double Bass and Orchestra

Piano Reduction

The 1983 Fantasy for Double Bass and Orchestra was commissioned by the Houston Symphony and written for François Rabbath. This two-movement work is scored for two flutes, harp, piano, four percussion, strings and solo bass. As expected the work is challenging and makes full use of the entire range of the bass, artificial harmonics and improvised sections. It cleverly straddles the worlds of jazz and contemporary classical music.

Movement 1 begins with a brief impressionistic orchestra (piano) introduction and is immediately followed by a solo bass cadenza. The remainder of the movement retains an expressive, impressionistic mood, interrupted by brief jazzy passages.

Movement 2 is remarkable for its driving energy, which is infused with jazzy Eastern flavors. Of special note are the improvised cadenza and the improvised final section in G minor. On the recording these improvised sections are based on François Rabbath's composition Poucha Dass, although there is no indication of this as a preference in this edition.

The piano reduction is in orchestra tuning; however, separate editions of the piano reduction and score are available in solo tuning. Fantasy for Double Bass and Orchestra is recorded on

Red Mark CD 9204.

Robert Black
Bass World

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To Red Mark Recording featuring François Rabbath

Frank Proto
Duo No. 2
for Violin and Double Bass (2004)

The four-movement Duo was written for the violinist Larrie Howard and the composer. The intelligent, idiomatic double bass and violin writing is clearly from the pen of a composer intimately familiar with string instruments. Moderately difficult, the two instruments play nearly continuously. Of particular interest is the interlocking part writing and jazz tinged moments in the second movement, the beautiful high melodies and improvised sections in the third movement, and the delightful interplay in movement four.

The edition comes with two scores and the bass part is in orchestra tuning. Kudos to Liben for, once again, including informative program notes. A CD which includeds the Duo No. 2 for Violin and Double Bass is available the on Red Mark label.

Robert Black
Bass World

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