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David Heyes

Teppo Hauta-aho: Finnish Duets for 2 double basses

Teppo Hauta-aho: Finnish Duets for 2 double basses

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About the Compositions

Finnish Duets brings together three inventive, colourful and exciting duets for 2 double basses. Each offer musical and technical challenges in equal measure, alongside opportunities to explore a wealth of musical styles and idioms, creating unique duets which are atmospheric, evocative and rhythmically charged but also brimming with life and good humour. Ideal for the advanced duo.

1. Duettino Basso V 

In one extended movement, Duettino Basso V contrasts jazz, classical and contemporary styles alongside arco and pizzicato, employing much of the range of the double bass, and lasting around 3-4 minutes.

Bass 1 plays arco primarily, usually in treble clef often employing simple but evocative and atmospheric melodies played in harmonics. Bass 2 plays exclusively pizzicato and underpins the piece with a strongly direct and confident jazz-inspired syncopated accompaniment.

The contrasting musical styles creates a work of great imagination and skill, typical of the music of Teppo Hauta-aho, and Duettino Basso V follows a line of successful double bass duets which would be suitable for any audience or occasion. There are few technical challenges for the good intermediate bass duo but scope to create and explore many soundscapes and musical landscapes, demonstrating the possibilities of the double bass.

2. Duo Basso V 

Teppo Hauta-aho is the most prolific double bass composer in the history of the instrument and has composed a wealth of inventive, evocative and intriguing works for double bass duet.

Duo Basso V was unfinished when it was premiered by David Heyes and Teppo Hauta-aho at Bass-Fest 2014 in Frome (Somerset) and the composer subsequently wrote a short coda to end the piece. In one extended movement, with bass 2 playing primarily pizzicato, a wide spectrum of musical landscapes are explored throughout the entire range of the double bass.

The bleak but beautiful and picturesque landscapes of the composers native Finland are evoked in soundscapes of atmospheric beauty and majesty. There is great scope for each bassist to portray far more simply a technical command of the instrument with opportunities to display musical insights alongside tonal and timbral contrasts.

Both bassists play from the same score

3. Duo Basso VI 

Duo Basso VI was composed in 2008 but only received its premiere on Friday 6 September 2019 at Wells & Mendip Museum (Wells, Somerset) by Alexander Heather (double bass) and David Heyes (double bass).

In two contrasting and extended movements, combining jazz and contemporary styles, the piece is a great addition to the bass duet repertoire and offers musical and technical challenges aplenty for both players. The composer explores a wealth of colours, textures and timbres, with the lyrical potential of the double bass always to the fore, and each movement would stand well as a separate recital work.

The music is always interesting and evocative, with great rhythmic interest and momentum, primarily with a pizzicato accompaniment from bass 2, as bass 1 explores the potential of the upper register and an effective use of harmonics to add height and contrast.

Both bassists play from the same score

About the Composer

Finnish composer and bassist Teppo Hauta-aho was the most prolific bass composer of our time and since the 1970s has composed more than 400 works for double bass - spanning the entire range of standards from beginner to virtuoso.

Teppo Hauta-aho was born in 1941 and studied double bass with Orvo Hyle and Oiva Nummelin in Finland, and František Pošta in Prague. He played with the Helsinki Philharmonic between 1965 and 1972, and the Finnish Opera Orchestra from 1975 to 2000. Teppo Hauta-aho was an active recitalist, both classical and jazz, gave more than 300 recitals with his duo partner, Carita Holmström, and was at the cutting edge of modern improvisation - performing with leading improvisers throughout the world, for many years.

Finnish composer Harry Wessman writes: "As a composer, Teppo Hauta-aho has always been his own teacher, basing his technical knowledge on his wide practical musicianship as an orchestral player, chamber and jazz musician. It would not be an exaggeration to claim that he was the jazz bassist most in demand in Finland in the 1970s, and a few of his works are pure jazz compositions. But the compositional techniques and musical means used in the majority of his works originate in an unusual openness for any devices. Along with modern techniques, his source of inspiration includes all the previous stylistic periods in European music, impulses from Oriental music and, of course, jazz. His own instrument, the double bass, has profited especially from his rich inventiveness in finding new means to conjure forth unusual sounds from the instrument, and in applying them in an artistically meaningful and striking way."

Teppo Hauta-aho's music has been performed extensively in Finland and abroad, notably in America, Britain, Germany, France, Czech Republic, Soviet Union, Australia and Switzerland. He died in Helsinki on 27 November 2021.

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