music depends on the visual aspect of performance as much as the
musical, and many contemporary recordings can leave one with a sense
of disappointment when the spectacle of performing is missing. This
new recording by Corrado Canonici happily does not fall into this category and the choice of repertoire
and use of electronics, voice, clarinet and piano contrast the texture,
timbres and effects available to the contemporary bassist.
Canonici specialises in performing works from the latter part
of the twentieth century and is a regular prizewinner and performer
at the leading contemporary festivals around the world.
This CD was recorded in 1995 and begins with Five Corrado Songs by the Romanian composer, Dinu Ghezzo (b. 1941), composed in 1993
for Canonici and combines the sound of the double bass with interactive computer.
This is an effective work creating a dialogue between the soloist
and the computer, utilising different registers of the bass with
many styles of performance (gliss, pizz, sul pont, col legno)
and this is a recording of great energy and contrasts.
Psy for solo double bass by Luciano Berio (b. 1925) was composed
in 1989 for the birthday of a friend, but remained unperformed until
1993 when it was premiered in Rome by Canonici.
This short solo (140") has energy and forward momentum
combining moto perpetuo passages with lyrical episodes
and many double stops.
Anafora by the Italien composer Luca Macchi (b. 1965) is
an extended work for solo double bass that portrays a sense of time
and space contrasting well the different timbres, moods and styles.
The piece is reliant on the atmospheric changes of mood as the styles
fade from one musical form to another and includes the obvious influence
of jazz pizzicato to great effect.
The recording succeeds for a number of reasons, not least the exciting
choice of excellent repertoire combining solo bass with contrasting
instruments -including computer and demonstrating the many
performance modes of the contemporary bassist.
Suzanne Giraud (b. 1958) combines double bass with voice to great
effect with the vocal line using a range of styles (singing, speech,
sprechgesang) in Blue et obre. Sustained harmonics are used
effectively, and the middle section is a double-stopped moto
perpetuo building to a frenzied climax. The work begins and
ends with a feeling of calm serenity created by sustained double
Circle Music I-B by Daniel Kessner (b. 1946) is the only
work for double bass and piano and was "composed as a close
circle, without a fixed beginning or ending." There are passages
of tenderness and lyricism combined with moments of great vitality
and energy and this is an effective duet, dating from 1986.
The remainder of the recording (Scelsi, Cage, Mazurek) demonstrates Canonicis
unique talents as a virtuoso of contemporary music, and although
this will not be to everyones taste, these are performances
of vitality and commitment."
Wire - May 1998 - by Andy Hamilton
I guess Contrabass is the title of the album, and its also Canonici's
instrument. The most substantial pieces is by Romanian composer
Dinu Ghezzo the exuberant Five Corrado Songs for bass and
interactive computer. Dont get too excited about the world premiere
recording by Italian maestro Luciano Berio Psy for solo bass
is only 100 seconds long. More familiar fare nowadays is Scelsis Maknongan for singing bassist, and Cages Music For Two, with Canonici joined by Guido is a phenomenal bass player, and this mostly solo
album consistently holds the interest.
Century Music - January 1998 - by Mark Alburger
the deal with multisyllabic alliteratively-appelated Italian bassists?
First Stefano Scodanibbio, now Corrado
Canonici. Both share a progressive repertory and first-rate
Canonici's solo Capstone release includes a premiere recording
of Luciano Berio, as well as music by Cage, Scelsi, and a number
of other progressive composers.
It gets right down to business with Dinu Ghezzo's "Five Conado
Songs" (1993) for contrabass and interactive computer, which
requires moans and howls from its namesake player along with wild
bass figuration, Crumbian buzzes and seagulls, ritual flauting,
and crazy contrapuntal responses. I played this Halloween night
at high volumes; it definitely set a mood and got attention. The
"Five Corrado Songs" ("A Soldier Song," "Contastorie,"
"Doinas," Cypher Song," and "Canto Canonico")
are quite varied and among the strongest offerings on the CD.
Berio's "Pay" (1989) for solo contrabass also gets attention,
but at 1'40," in a briefer, perpetual-arco manner. The work
was premiered by Canonici in 1993. The ensuing "Anafora" (1990 - also for solo bass)
of Luca Macchi almost functions as a sustained working-out of the
As commanding is "Bleu et ombre" for contrabass and voice,
by Suzanne Giraud. Ombretta Macchi's solo soprano leaps out of the
recording from some other concert space -- that of the traditional
avant-garde art-song. There's a bit of the Schoenberg "Ewartung"
frenzy, but the most interesting freneticism remains with the bass.
In a like leaping manner, Daniel Kessner's "Circle Music I-B"
for contrabass and piano emerges and bounces out of academic atonality
like a disoriented Hindemith, Messiaen, or Crumb -- angular, ornamented,
alternately mysterious and jaunty. To paraphrase Stravinsky's comment
about the "Pulcinella" duet: the piano has a very loud
voice, whereas the bass has almost no voice at all.
Giacinto Scelsi returns us to an earlier low-tech version of the
Ghezzo with "Maknongan" for a singing contrabassist. Or
perhaps it is Canonici himself, who notes:
"Maknongan" (1976) can be played by any kind of bass instrument,
or bass voice. But the Zen way of composing by Scelsi, suggested
to me "to play and to sing" this composition in unison.
This idea creates a symbiotic sound, where the true singer is perhaps
the contrabass, or the true contrabass is perhaps the voice: a non-instrument
playing a non-composition.
In any case, Scelsi is here -- as always -- non-settling, non-ordinary,
Canonici also joins the creative process in John Cage's "Music for two"
(1988) which can be played by a different number of musicians (the
original title was "Music for...") and with different
durations (from a few seconds to 30 minutes). Canonici is joined by clarinetist Guido Arbonelli for 5'41" of semi-aleatoric
fun (while the musical fragments are strictly notated, their arrangement
is at the discretion of the players).
Symmetrically reflecting the high-tech of the opening work, Ronald
Mazureks "Cries of the innocent" (for contrabass, dancer,
and electronic tape) closes the CD on an exciting yet serious tack,
taking as its text the words of Jesus from the cross, "My God,
My God, why hast Thou forsaken me?" While the dancer has apparently
forsaken the recording, the adventurous listener will not."
Music Connoisseur - Winter-Spring, 1996 - by B.L.C.
bass, like the viola, the trombone, the marimba and many other instruments,
had to wait a while before receiving attention by composers
as a viable solo instrument. Such a situation may be attributed
to today's composers' resourcefulness and daring or, perhaps, their
desire to fill a gap and draw on some new sonorities. Another, more
widely held argument, is that today's instrumentalists are simply
better than ever and have voracious appetites for new material.
After listening to this unusual and intriguing CD, we are thoroughly
convinced of the latter proposition.
Canonici is a contrabassist for whom composers are actually
writing new works, so that he doesn't have to depend on transcriptions
from the cello literature in order to practice his art. No less
a contemporary composer than Luciano Berio wrote Psy for
the instrument. No matter that it was done for a friend's birthday
and lasts all of a minute and 40 seconds -- it is toccata-like in
form and substantially effective in Canonici's
hands. Mr. Macchi's Anafora ("Amphora"), on the
other hand, like its subject, seems to harbor ancient mysteries,
an impression enhanced by the use of alternating arco and pizzicato
The one other unaccompanied piece here is by Scelsi, a little known
composer, said to be a lover of Zen, who worked in France between
1930 and 1970. The piece calls for a Zen idea: voice at one with
nature. Canonici has chosen to hum along with the musical line to create a "symbiotic
sound." One finds the result something like the unison sonority
of voice with one of those buzzing computer samples.
In contrast, Dinu Ghezzo creates a true dialogue between bass player
and interactive computer, in a work written for Canonici complete with word play on his name (e.g.,the last of the five songs
is titled "Canto Canonico and is, in fact, a canon.)
The 14-minute "suite' is musically adventurous with improvisations
galore along with complex counterpoint. The computer's responses
to the bass player are outrageous, ranging from a dogged putt-putting
to extreme shifts of pitch at the limits of the string bass range.
Two more duets are the Cage and the Kessner, exemplifying quite
different approaches to indeterminacy. Cage asks that his forces
-- these are optional -- play from a strictly notated score but
not necessarily in sequence, while Kessner in his piece (running
at 10:30 here) leaves the point of entry up to the performers and
makes a tighter demand on duration than does Cage. Canonici and his partners are intensely respectful to the schemes called
for here, but the results are largely those of esoteric musical
Two more selections call for the human voice. Ms. Giraud's largely
symmetrical "Blue and Gray" utilizes a soprano in monodrama
fashion. i.e., in both singing and speaking a French text which,
sad to say, is not translated in the liner notes (except to cite
the textual element as "more psychologically intimate than
the bassist's role"). But that part is complex enough, with
continual shifts in mood, tempo and dynamics.
Mr. Mazurek's opus is largely a theatrical work incorporating strong
visual touches and performer improvisation. Of course, we can only
judge it on the merits of The music, and that is impressive. There
is a part for prerecorded tape containing a reading in Latin of
Christ's last words on the cross, epitomizing for the composer the
cries of all those who have suffered since. Near the end, Mr. Canonici,
is asked to do an actor's improvisation on those words, a task he
renders quite movingly. The piece serves as a fitting finale to
the CD, as this gifted virtuoso seems to summarize all that has
preceded it with genuine involvement.
The recording is blessed with far better than average sound thanks
to the work of Francesco Sardella and staff and the obviously amenable
acoustics of the Pink House Studio in Monsano, Italy. Congratulations
to Capstone for another winning entry in the accelerating field
of new-music recording."
Choice - May, 1996 - by Paul Turok
bassist Corrado Canonici offers contemporary music for his instrument, including two impressive
unaccompanied works by Italian composers: Berios tiny Psy, and Luca Macchi's extended Anfora. Works by Scelsi,
Cage and others seem forced by comparison."