The Strad's experts evaluate the latest string recordings
David Anderson: Double Bass Sonata*. Luis Prado: Three Meditations for double bass and piano*. Boismortier: Sonata in D major op.50 no.3 (arr. Kurtz)†
Sunday, 01 March 2009
THE STRAD RECOMMENDS
Jeremy Kurtz (double bass) Benjamin Kamins (bassoon)† Ines Irawati (piano)* Alison Luedecke (harpsichord)†
David Anderson, Luis Prado, Boismortier
Jeremy Kurtz JK-001 (www.jeremykurtz.com)
The rich, post-Romantic harmonies and predominantly slow tempos of both US bassist David Anderson’s Double Bass Sonata (1990) and the Three Meditations (1999) of the young Puerto Rican-born composer Luis Prado give Jeremy Kurtz, principal bass of the San Diego Symphony, ample opportunity to display his impressive technical control, clean articulations and rich, creamy mid-range tone. His flexible vibrato brings intensity to the ever-rising lines of the slowly evolving, plaintive melodies of the Meditations, while the work’s rare descents to the bass’s lowest register allow him to show off a dark, chocolatey, sometimes breathy tone.
Kurtz proves a persuasive advocate for the Anderson Sonata, too, with crisp articulations and nimble phrasing in the first movement’s driving, Shostakovich-like march, and an impressive control of tone in the series of high-pitched tremolandos that end the slow movement. You couldn’t accuse either work of breaking much new ground, and Kurtz’s playing on this, his debut CD, is sometimes a little lacking in energy and sparkle, but these are enjoyable performances nonetheless.
However, Kurtz’s bass adaptation of a Boismortier Sonata from 1734 (originally conceived for cello, gamba or bassoon) is not always convincing. His careful, sometimes reserved playing, coupled with a soft-edged tone, leads to the bass often getting lost in the texture: sometimes the continuo bassoon sounds as though it is the main melody instrument. It’s a shame, especially given the charm and elegance that Kurtz brings to the piece. Recorded sound is rich and resonant, with the bass (usually) forward in the mix.
From the March 2009 issue. Subscribe to The Strad or download our digital edition as part of a 30-day free trial.