LABELS: Black Box
WORKS: Arpeggione Sonata in A minor, D821
PERFORMER: Duncan McTier (double bass), Kathron Sturrock (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: BBM 1007
Duncan McTier belongs to that rare breed of bassists whose sound is so straight and true that you think you’re hearing some unclassified instrument, with a cello’s range and a viola’s timbre, and not the double bass at all. His diet, however, like that of all bass players, consists largely of transcriptions and showpieces, and so it’s good to hear him play Hindemith’s Sonata, and the three-movement Sonata by the Czech Frantisek Hertl, alongside Schubert’s Arpeggione Sonata, a one-size-fits-all kind of piece, always transcribed by virtue of its being written for a musical dodo, yet as well adapted to performance on the double bass as on anything.
Its slow movement turns out to be yet another of Schubert’s takes on the Larghetto of Beethoven’s Second Symphony, but who’s counting? Certainly not McTier and his pianist Kathron Sturrock, who play the notes just as they are, with a fine Schubertian breadth of phrase. The Hindemith reserves its powers for the finale, preliminary skirmishes of melodic fourths flying up and down the fingerboard succeeding to Mathis-style melancholy. The Hertl, superbly written for both instruments, delivers a payload of warmth and energy without exactly setting the world on fire. Nicholas Williams