Bass World magazine n° 33
The Dark Side of the Bass
Francesco Fraioli, double bass
Francesco Buccarella, piano
N.B.B. Records NBB23 2009
The dark Side of the Bass features stunning performances by Italian double bassist Francesco Fraioli with Francesco Buccarella on piano.
The CD includes three sonatas for double bass and piano by the composers Vilmos Montag, Hans-Peter Linde and Paul Hindemith.
On the first track, the first movement (Allegro moderato) of the sonata by Vilmos Montag, Fraioli establishes his wide range of dynamic expression and depth of lyricism. Clearly, he is very influenced by one of his teachers, Francesco Petracchi.The entire work demands a legato tone that must be maintained over the wide register and over string crossings.
Fraioli's agile shifting and string crossing technique allows him to maintain the dramatic and intense lyricism that score demands.
Aided by the recording engineer's decision to utilize a close mic, he is able to clearly articulate every note of the rapid gestures while sustaining his lyricism throughout. However, it was very surprising to hear him occasionally negate his best qualities by opting to perform some of the spiccato passages very off-the-string. Fraioli's pizzicato tone is supportive, deep,very sustained, rich in overtones, and most importantly, dark in timbre. This is especially true at the end of the first movement. Perhaps his dark, rich timbre is what inspired the title of the CD. Despite the close mic, which favors clarity of fundamental frequencies and transients of the envelope more than the overtones of the bass, I'm even more impressed at how Fraioli was able to achieve such dark timbres under these circumstances.
The Vilmos Montag Sonata was composed in 1967, but its careful chromaticism and restrained emotion will remind the listener of the conservative romanticism of the cosmopolitan French tradition of the late 19th century. In other words, if you liked César Franck's Sonata for Violin and Piano, you will like the Montag. The effective writing is very idiomatic and does not confront the double bassist with unreasonable and unmanageable difficulties. Vilmos Montag wrote the Sonata for his brother, Lajos Montag, a double bassist. The Sonata by Hans-Peter Linde, also written in 1967, will immediately remind listeners of the music of Shostakovich, especially the fugato section of the first movement. Also, like much of the music of Shostakovich, the Sonata by Hans-Peter Linde successfully walks the tightrope between the two extremes demanded by late 20th century audiences. it is accessible to the casual listener, yet the work can also satisfy the more sophisticated listener who also wants to analyze the work on multiple levels. Fraioli's approach on the Linde Sonata differs from the Montag. It is much more passive, careful, and in some places, even introspective in nature. The approach is cautious, carefully studied and rigorously appropriate. It is absolutely à propos for the mood of the Linde Sonata. There are formidable double stops in the third movement, and Fraioli executes them with poise and precision.
The final sonata on the CD is Paul Hindemith's Sonata for Double Bass and PIano(1949). Fraioli realizes this venerable staple of 20th century repertoire with distinctive lyricism. Both Fraioli and pianist Francesco Buccarella eschew the traditional, misguided practice of square, mechanical and cold phrasing that has often plagued performances of the Hindemith Sonata. From the first sustained note, Fraioli shapes each note with sensitive detail drawing from his expressive vibrato and his command of the lyrical strokes in his right-hand bowing technique. The interpretation is fresh and classic all at once. The recording engineers Lorenzo Gerace and Stefano Cappelli are to be commended for their recording of the piano and double bass in an unusual space that would normally invite unwanted resonances and distortions of the sound waves. Not only did they compensate for such an unfavorable environment, they were able to allow the reverberations of the hall to appropriately color the sound of the double bass and piano. The balance of the double bass and piano in terms of volume and frequency distribution across the spectrum allowed for a unification of the two instruments as a chamber ensemble and ultimately empowered the musicians to produce a recording that is both transparent and ideal.
-review by Jeremy Baguyos
Francesco Fraioli is double Bass teacher at "Istituto Superiore di Studi Musicali G.Briccialdi" di Terni. Italy.
Before he was Principal Bass of the "Orchestra sinfonica Dellea Rai di Roma" ecc.
Buy it at: