Litanie is the central movement of 'Trois Pièces Élégiaques', originally for double bass and piano and composed in memory of the Czech double bass virtuoso František Pošta (1919-1991).
Bernard Salles writes: "I didn't write a traditional sonata as I didn't feel inspired by the form, instead I composed "3 pièces élégiaques pour contrebasse et piano", and the last piece also includes a short vocal intervention at the end: a quotation from Shakespeare's "The Tempest". The three pieces can be played together, to form a kind of sonata, or each piece also works on its own. The pieces have a nostalgic character, and are perhaps a little dark... maybe the effect of the crisis we are all going through at the moment? I hope that you like them and that it is the kind of thing you were looking for to pay homage to František Pošta."
Litanie is only 29 bars in length with its poignant and cantabile melodic line contrasting a repetitive accompaniment. The accompaniment uses high and low registers allowing the solo double bass to inhabit it's middle solo register with music of a more chromatic nature, ending with a brief upward moving line played entirely in harmonics.
Bernard Salles suggested that the movement would also work for double bass quartet and David Heyes, who commissioned the pieces alongside 27 bassists from around the world, created the two arrangements. Version 1 is for solo double bass accompanied by trio, with bass 1 having all the melodic interest. Version 2 shares the melodic material between all four bassists, who also share the accompaniment, and this is a beautiful and poignant addition to the bass quartet repertoire.
Bernard Salles was born in 1954 and began his musical education in his home town of Perpignan (France) where he studied double bass, organ, composition and orchestral conducting at the Conservatoire. In 1973 he want to the Conservatoire of Versailles and in 1976, at the age of 22, he was awarded a double bass teaching diploma. Since then he has taught at the Conservatoire of Pau (South-west France) and played with many major French orchestras including the Orchestre de Paris and the National Orchestra of France, under the direction of conductors such as Daniel Barenboim, Pierre Boulez, Zubin Metha and Lorin Maazel.
In 1983 he began a parallel career as a conductor and was Music Director of the Orchestra of Pau from 1996-2001. He has directed the Orchestra of Pamplona (Spain) and is currently Music Director of the OSSO (Orchestre Symphonique du Sud-Ouest).
As a composer and member of SACEM (Society of Authors, Composers and Editors of Music), he has written over 30 works including two symphonies, a cantata, a psalm for bass and orchestra, a concerto for double bass and small orchestra, Rhapsody for viola and orchestra, Triptych for orchestra, Prelude for cello and orchestra, a symphonic poem for soprano, cello and orchestra, as well as works for chamber groups, and for choir and organ. His pedagogic works are published by G.Billaudot in Paris and his works for double bass are published by Recital Music (England).
In 2010 he began a series of short pieces for unaccompanied double bass - Portraits for Friends - dedicated to his double bass playing friends.