Obscure Music Monday: Two Pieces for Double Bass and Piano – Prelude
Reinhold Moritzevich Glière (Jan. 11, 1875 - June 23, 1956) was a Russian/Soviet composer and violinist born in Kiev, of German-Polish descent. Son of a wind instrument maker, Glière showed talent as a child, and entered the Kiev School of Music in 1891, studying the violin. In 1894 he entered the Moscow Conservatory, and graduated in 1900, after composing a one act opera entitled "Earth and Heaven", and winning a gold medal for it. Glière would later go on to teach in many conservatories, including those of Kiev and Moscow.
Glière's output as a composer was largely for orchestra, or operas and ballets, but he did also write some instrumental solos, including Two Pieces for Double Bass, and we're looking a the first movment, Prelude. Glière was friends with the great Russian double bassist and conductor Serge Koussevitsky, and he had already written some works for him, which he played on recitals, and then Glière wrote this set; alas, Koussevitsky never played it.
Prelude is a beautiful and challenging work for the double bass. Based around a beautiful ascending group of eighth notes the double bass plays at the very beginning, the focus for this piece is creating a smooth, effortless line that carries through from measure to measure. The double bass part is full of accidentals, shifts galore, and notes close to the end of the fingerboard, presenting some wonderful challenges to dig into. The piano part is modest, supporting the double bass part just so.
Here's a recording of this lovely work for you to enjoy!