'Basso bailando’, or music for ‘dancing bass’, features the instrument in a programme where the emphasis is on music with a lighter touch, enhanced in two instances by live performances where the audience no doubt added an extra frisson.
Piazzolla’s Cuatro Estaciones (‘Four Seasons’) were originally scored for the composer’s tango quintet in the 1960s. As arranged for double bass with violin and strings by Marijn van Prooijen, these four pieces retain their Argentinian flavour and lose little of their impact in these vital performances. Rick Stotijn relishes the quirky humour of the tango rhythms that alternate with melodies akin to popular song in the fast-slow-fast structure of each season. There’s much to admire too in the Dutchman’s soulful delivery of Piazzolla’s music, capturing the moods from the romantic to the menacing.
Prooijn’s arrangements of Falla’s Six Popular Spanish Songs are more of a problem. All’s well while the dance rhythms of ‘El paño moruno’, ‘Jota’ and ‘Polo’ hold sway – the harp adding an extra bite to the music’s flavour. However, for all Stotijn’s poetic line, the transfer of the vocal line to the orchestra’s lowest instrument doesn’t convince in either ‘Asturiana’ or the lullaby, ‘Nana’, where the grumbling bass is no enhancement.
The Divertimento concertanto by Nino Rota may be derivative in its language but it is enormous fun and a piece of considerable ingenuity. Classical in form and style, delectably scored, it’s given an effervescent performance by the orchestra and Stotijn, who keeps our attention from his commanding first entry through to his ‘cheeky chappie’ characterisation of the finale’s rondo theme. The Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra are as adept as their soloist in responding to the twists and turns in Rota’s writing.