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Stephen Tramontozzi

Koussevitzky: Double Bass Concerto, Op. 3 transposed to D Minor (transcribed by Stephen Tramontozzi)

Koussevitzky: Double Bass Concerto, Op. 3 transposed to D Minor (transcribed by Stephen Tramontozzi)

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About the Composition

The concerto falls into the conventional three movements, beginning with an allegro that opens with a declamatory, Tchaikovsky-like theme succinctly stated by the orchestra and answered by a short bass recitative. The soloist takes up the opening motto, presenting it lyrically yet passionately. The solo line seamlessly threads its way into related material, sounding very much like passages of the Dvorák Cello Concerto, and eventually offers a songful second subject.  

Koussevitzky dwells on this Dvorákian material without providing a full development, then fashions a modest bridge to the andante, which sounds much like an aria from a Tchaikovsky opera.  Here, for the first time, the composer periodically takes the instrument into its lower range, but only briefly, usually in the course of weaving the melody up and down the staff.  For the most part, Koussevitzky exploits the instrument’s middle and upper ranges, where it projects better, and is careful not to let the woodwind-tinged orchestration overpower the bass. A full pause precedes the third movement, another allegro, which begins with the same declamatory theme as the first movement.

The bass picks up this melody more ardently than before and adheres to its contours more closely as it proceeds through a loose, rhapsodic restatement of the opening movement.

About the Composer

Serge Koussevitzky (1874 –1951) was a Russian-born conductor, composer, and double bassist.  Although known for his long tenure as music director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra from 1924 to 1949, he started out as a touring double-bass virtuoso. Sometime between 1902 and 1905, he composed a concerto for his instrument, possibly with the help of Reyngol’d Glière.  The work, instead of following the most progressive tendencies of its time, is a ripe example of Russian romanticism. Koussevitzky dedicated the concerto to his fiancée and gave its premiere in Moscow, and he played it subsequently in Germany, Paris, and Boston.

Program Notes by Bartje Bartmans

About Stephen Tramontozzi

Stephen Tramontozzi is the Assistant Principal Bass with the San Francisco Symphony since 1980. A native of Arlington, Massachusetts, he studied at the Eastman School of Music, New England Conservatory, and the San Francisco Conservatory. Mr. Tramontozzi is on the faculty at the San Francisco Conservatory, has led master classes across the United States, and has coached members of the SFS Youth Orchestra bass section since its inception. He also formerly served on the faculties of Stanford University, the University of California, Berkeley, and UC Santa Cruz.

His publications include the Solo Cello Suites of J.S. Bach for Double Bass No.s 1, 2, 3, 4. He has released 3 solo CDs, “ Walkabout,” “Home Bass,” and “Urban Bass.” He has also recorded the Books of Madrigals by George Crumb, the keyboard concerti of J.S. Bach with Awadagin Pratt and the St. Lawrence Quartet, and a CD of chamber music by Lou Harrison.

Included with Each Download

Solo Double Bass Part in D Minor
Piano Score in E Minor (for solo tuning)
Piano score in D Minor (for orchestra tuning)
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