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Vilmos Montag (1908–1991): Sonata for Double Bass and Piano (1967)

The Hungarian-born composer Vilmos Montag dedicated his Sonata for Double Bass and piano, publiashed in 1967, to his brother Lajos Montag (1907–1998), a prolific double bassist who had published a method for the instrument and compositions of his own. The sonata's melodic and modal themes are continuously exchanged between the ,bass and the piano whose dense part is quasi-orchestral.

The bassist is asked to lower the bottom string a whole step down, to the custum tuning (scordatura) of (bottom to top): D-A-D-G. This mixed tuning creates further melodic possibilities: note the perfect fifth between the bottom D and the A, as well as the octave between the two Ds, and allows for a textural effect at the end of the first movement where the open A and Ds are plucked to produce a chime-like quality. Some bass players such as Ludwig Streicher and Edgar Meyer use this tuning, combining solo and orchestral strings (orchestral E-solo B-E-A). Canadian bassist Joel Quarrington tunes all the strings on his bass entirely in fifths. All of these demonstrate a long lasting tradition of basses without a definitive standard of shape and size, using literally dozens of different tunings for their three to five strings.

Ron Merhavi

Vilmos Montag (1908–1991): Sonata for Double Bass and Piano (1967)

Ron Merhavi – Double Bass, Lydia Qiu – Piano

Ron Merhavi's First Dissertation Recital: Britton Recital Hall, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor 11.1.2004


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