An Affair with keyboards

December 10. 2011

Camerata Hall at Helsinki Music Centre



Henri Dutilleux (1916 - 2013): Diptyque "Les Citations" (ob, hpd, perc, db)

For Aldeburgh 85

From Janequin to Jehan Alain


Paul Hindemith (1895 - 1963): Sonata for double bass and piano


Scherzo: Allegro assai

Molto Adagio - rezitativo -

Lied: Allegretto grazioso


Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872 - 1958): Quintet in C minor (piano, vln, vla, vcl, db)

Allegro con fuoco


Fantasia (quasi variazioni)



Sound theme

The third concert presented three different ensembles in which the double bass and the other string instruments were combined with two keyboard instruments, i.e. the strong and distinctive overtone structure of their sound. Harpsichord and piano both dominate the ring of their ensembles and the double bass compliments the instrument combinations very differently according to the composers' idea.

Dutilleux explores typically sound worlds of his own with a very rare combination of instruments. The harpsichord colors the ring of the complete ensemble. As an instrument with rather narrow dynamic scale it forces the other instruments adjust their playing according to it. The double bass' role in this weird quartet is to alternate between the characteristically low and very high register with some quite soloistic material.

Hindemith sonata is actually more of a piece for piano and double bass than vice versa. Even though bass plays the melody the ensemble is dominated by the piano, which also plays the bass line alone.

The piano quintet by Vaughan Williams owes its ensemble to Schubert's Trout quintet with its thick and rather orchestral score. The double bass remains mostly in lower register and couples often with cello and/or the bass line of piano building foundations for rich, fully romantic sound.