Nordheim, Hedstr¿m, Xenakis & Hellstenius

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COMPOSERS: Hedstrøm,Nordheim,Xenakis & Hellstenius
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: The Contemporary Solo Double Bass, Vol. 3
WORKS: Works by Nordheim, Hedstrøm, Xenakis & Hellstenius
PERFORMER: Bjørn Ianke (double bass)
As a former double-bass player of limited ability, I’m full of admiration for anyone who can make it sound like a musical instrument, rather than furniture being moved around. All the same, nearly an hour of the beast on its own must have limited appeal, even when the playing is as expert as Bjørn Ianke’s. Nordheim’s Three Stanzas exploit the many facets of his technique – impeccably tuned double stops, agility in the higher register, harmonics, playing with the wood of the bow, snap pizzicato – all these and more produced with sonorous tone and no apparent effort. Hedstrøm’s Touche is less outgoing in its virtuosity: beginning with stealthy pizzicato like a ghostly jazz riff, it progresses through a series of ostinati, tentative and obsessive, often circling around single notes. Theraps, the only piece not written for Ianke, has the typical Xenakis fingerprints of grinding chords and stomach-churning glissandi. Here Ianke’s control is staggering: how do you play a double stop with the glissando going in opposite directions on each note? It’s a pity that Hellstenius’s Essays sur les temps double is less gripping musically, but the whole disc shows what the bass is capable of when liberated by a virtuoso. Martin Cotton