FELICIE BAZELAIRE & BERTRAND DENZLER - BASSE SEULE

(confront collectors series ccs 89)

Pieces for solo double bass composed by Bertrand Denzler (suisa) and played by Felicie Bazelaire.

1. Etude 7 (5.59)

2. Etude 9 (4.07)

3. Etude 10 (4.34)

4. Etude 11 (4.57)

5. Etude 14 (15.23)

6. Etude 3 (6.10)

7. 3D4 (6.06)

8. 3D1 (12.24)

9. Etude 17 (6.23)

Recordd by B & M at Atellier Polonceau Thomas-Roudeix, Paris on 5th and 6th of August 2017.

“Basse seule” is a series of études and pieces for double bass composed by Bertrand Denzler for Félicie Bazelaire. The music is built on simple systems, which allow an exploration of some characteristics of the instrument, as well as the situation of the instrumentalist playing alone. Within the systems, the musician has to find a balance in order to reveal the sound’s complexity.

"What an amazing, impressive surprise. While living in Paris, I was able to see Denzler a number of times in various contexts, always a joy. I was also able to hear and see Bazelaire on several occasions--I'd never heard of her before--and each time came away very impressed. Denzler's set of pieces for solo bass, with Bazelaire at the helm, is extraordinary.

There are nine tracks, seven of them "études" (numbered 7, 9, 10, 11, 14, 3 and 17) plus two works titles "3D4" and "3D1". The first five are all played arco and all occupy the nether depths of the bass. I'm not quite sure if the technical term is correct, but I'm thinking "wolf tones". Whatever, the sound is amazing. Even as the territory covered is similar, there's an enormous amount of variation and sheer gorgeousness in the sonorities. Long, low growls, endlessly rich and complex; I could wallow here forever. If you were knocked out, live or on recording, by Charles Curtis performing Éliane Radigue's 'Naldjorlak I', you need to hear this. The approach is severe, the results anything but. Be warned: your speakers may vibrate off their stands. The sixth track, 'étude 3', is pizzicato, but remains low, Bazelaire slowly, intently, strumming the depths; patient and lovely. Arco returns on the two non-étude works, but the structure and range of the bass is different. The lines are shorter, more overtly rhythmic, and the pitch range is greater, resulting in works that are perhaps more in the ballpark of solo music one may have heard in modern conservatories over recent decades, but with a roughness and rigor that remains rare. "3D1" and 'étude 17' depart even more from the previous pieces, both in the amount of open space and in the higher pitches negotiated (arco). The final work wanders into a dreamy and fine area, an almost sing-songy back and forth, very plaintive and, again, not without grit and grain. A truly exceptional release, very refreshing and imaginative. (Brian Olewnick)