Duo

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Price £10.50

Albert Roussel (5 April 1869 - 23 August 1937) initially embarked on a Naval career, but later changed direction in 1896 after meeting Vincent D'Indy and became one of the first pupils at the newly formed Schola Cantorum. He was a prolific composer, writing in many genres, and gradually became one of the leading figures in modern music during the early decades of the 20th-century, both in France and abroad. His early works were partly influenced by Debussy and D'Indy but his own distinctive and individual voice gradually emerged enabling him to create works of melodic impetus with a free sense of modality and rhythmic drive. Polyphony became an increasingly important aspect of his music and, although completely overshadowed by the music of Maurice Ravel, was a significant and inventive composer worthy of revival today.

Duo for bassoon and double bass was composed in 1925, as a gift of congratulation for Serge Sergei Koussevitzky (1874-1951), the revered conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, who had recently become a Knight of the Legion of Honour. Although Koussevitsky had, on the whole, stopped playing the double bass at this point it was fitting that the piece featured the double bass in a solo capacity and is part of a small group of works written for and dedicated to Koussevitsky. It was first published in 1943 by Durand & Cie (Paris) in an unplayable edition where the double bass is in solo tuning, but the part is written as for orchestral tuning.

Recital Music's 2008 edition [RM193 www.recitalmusic.net] is the only one which includes a correct part for the double bass where the player simply has to play the notes on the page, without wading through all three clefs and a wrong key.

In one movement and lasting about four minutes, Roussel's Duo is an accessible work of neo-classical energy and charm, full of rhythmic music, humour and invention and is often described as a 'musical joke'. Obviously the idea of two bass instruments playing together has to be funny in the minds of some...

The piece is quite episodic and the frequent change of pace and tempo maintains the interest, and offers many interpretative and musical possibilities. Solo tuning helps to produce a bright and ringing tone, to complement the sound and colour of the bassoon, and the use of high harmonics allows the bassoon to successfully descend into the lower registers, but on the whole both instruments play in their middle registers for much of the time. There is a sprightly feel and momentum, nicely characterising the true image of both instruments and allowing them to emerge from the depths of the orchestral repertoire, for a few minutes at least. The wealth of colours in the double bass part helps to contrast the more percussive and staccato attack of the bassoon.

Much to enjoy, in a modern but still accessible style, this has the potential to become much better known now the music is correct. A score and two playing parts are included.


Albert Roussel (1869-1937) was a prolific French composer. He wrote in a strongly individual style, described as 'with exotic material and Ravellian brilliance' and his later works were in the neo-classical idiom.

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Cat No. RM193
Price £10.50
ComposerAlbert Roussel
EditorDavid Heyes
CategoriesCello & Double Bass
Bassoon & Double Bass
Difficulty levelAdvanced
ISMN 979-0-57045-193-7
EAN-13 9790570451937
Weight 66 grams
Published 19th July 2009
Availability 6 in stock
See also...
RM275  Granito
RM549  Slavonic Rhapsody (DOUBLE BASS & PIANO)
RM612  Dialogue
RM659  Freefall (CELLO & PIANO)
RM769  Two for Three
RM989  Fantasie, Op.11