From the Halifax Chronicle-Herald: REVIEW CORNER, by Stephen Pedersen.
Two Octaves Down: Recital at A110. Paul Bresciani, double bass and William Crawford, piano. PHX16282
Double-bass recitals, once common in Halifax when Gary Karr lived here during the 70s, are still rarer than a warm spring in Nova Scotia.
Paul Bresciani, principal bass of the Buffalo Philharmonic was not a student of Karr's, but he plays the same repertoire: short pieces by Bottesini, Koussevitsky, and Ernest Bloch. In addition, Bresciani plays on this CD a Boccherini Sonata originally written for cello, and a jazzy original of his own called Sequences.
Accompanied by William Crawford on the piano, Bresciani displays a sweet and silken tone on the bass, a singing style, and love for Romanticism that only slightly leads him astray (stylistically speaking) in the Boccherini.
But the warmth and musicality of his lyricism recommend themselves to anyone, be they bassist or be they something definitely other. The perfection lent to his performance by his exquisite sense of pitch make this CD a total charmer.
Not all people like the bass as a solo instrument, though Karr did more than anyone to change that. Finding substantial repertoire for it rather than the more common salon pieces is not easy. Bresciani chooses not to fight that particular battle here. He just plays it as it comes.
His sound is lighter than Karr's for all of its honeyed warmth. Principally, this is the result of using the overhand (French) bow as cellists do, rather than the underhand (German) bow. At this level of playing preferences are academic.
Only in the Baal Shem with its Jewish solemnity does one wish for a darker richness, and a deeper tone colour, that cantorial sound which characterize's Karr's playing.
The CD cover shows Bresciani and Crawford rappelling down a mountain in South Carolina's Caesar's Head State Park. The title, Two Octaves Down, is inspired. "Recital at A 110" on the other hand, is unexplained.
No matter, the loveliness of the playing needs no explanation. From Wholenote: by Troy Milleker. Paul Bresciani has been an influential bass player and pedagogue for at least the past ten years. Though it may seem to lack the bravura and soloistic brightness of sound associated with the leading soloists of the day, there is no lack of expression and musicality in Mr. Bresciani’s playing. He is regarded as one of those rare musical talents that combines the discipline of maintaining a career as a Principal player in a professional orchestra and the creative drive it takes to continue to grow artistically.
For those who are fans of the double bass and its repertoire this CD goes straight to it with some of the most popular works written for this instrument. One fine example is Bottesini’s Reverie and Elegy which are separated here by Paul Bresciani’s own Sequences, an interesting composition based on jazz and improvisational influences. There are also a few transcriptions mixed in, such as Schumann’s Abendlied, which Mr. Bresciani plays with beauty and sensitivity.
The final work on the CD is Bresciani’s own transcription of Baal Shem: Three Pictures of Chassidic Life by Ernest Bloch. In my opinion, this is the main event. The work was originally written for violin and piano but it seems to work especially well for double bass and piano. The dark, wailing sound of the bass captures the melancholy of the music and the listener is slightly haunted by the wall of sound Bresciani produces. From La Scena Musicale: by Lucie Renaud. This is the debut CD by Bresciani, principal bass with the Buffalo Philharmonic, prize winner in the 1988 Los Angeles International Double Bass Competition. This recording contains a few works written especially for the instrument (by Bottesini and Koussevitzky, who both did wonders to increase the repertoire of the instrument) but also several transcriptions by Bresciani of works originally written for cello (as in the Boccherini Sonata), violin (Bloch’s haunting Baal Shem & or even voice (Schumann’s beautiful Abendlied, played with much expression and sensitivity by the soloist). Bresciani even includes his own Sequences, a jazz-inspired composition, rather compelling if not truly original. The double bass has rarely sounded so agile and versatile, becoming a virtuoso instrument in its own right. From SRI-Canada: by Angela Hewitt. PHX 16282 TWO OCTAVES DOWN Paul Bresciani, double-bass William Crawford, piano Two Octaves Down is the debut CD by Paul Bresciani, Principal Bass with the Buffalo Philharmonic. Paul is joined by pianist William Crawford on this recording which contains a variety of music transcribed for double-bass. Pieces include Schumann's gorgeous "Abendleid", played with sensitivity and gentleness, Boccherini's "Sonata No. 6" as well as a variety of works by Koussevitzky, Bottessini and an original composition with jazz overtones entitled "Sequences" by Paul Bresciani. The highlight of the CD is Ernest Bloch's "Baal Shem" a violin tour de force, here played masterfully and with great expression on double bass. Paul Bresciani and William Crawford on Two Octaves Down present the double bass in a way that few have heard it - as a virtuoso instrument of the highest calibre capable of a great range of subtlety and expression. From the International Society of Bassists "Top Picks": by Owen Lee. I am a bassist in a major orchestra and I must say that Paul Bresciani's CD is one of the best bass recordings I have ever heard. His readings of Bottesini's "Elegy" and the Koussevitzky "Miniatures" are among the finest I have come across. The other standouts on this remarkable album are fiery, ultra virtuosic readings of Boccherini's Sonata and Bloch's "Baal Shem." Mr. Bresciani plays with incredible emotional daring and abandon, and draws a marvelous, honeyed tone from his bass. The photo of him rappelling on the cover is appropriate. He goes for it, takes incredible risks and succeeds.
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