American double bassist David Grossman performing the US premiere of American composer, Missy Mazzoli‘s ‘Dark With Excessive Bright‘ for Double Bass and Strings.

“I was commissioned by the Australian Chamber Orchestra to create a work that celebrated double bassist Maxime Bibeau’s 25th year with the ensemble … the work premiered at the Sydney Opera House in early 2018 …” Missy has told The Violin Channel.

“Dark with Excessive Bright was inspired by the actual instrument on which this work was premiered, a double bass played by the Australia-based performer …” the celebrated composer has said.

“The instrument was built in 1580 and was stored in an Italian monastery for hundreds of years … it survived a bombing in World War II, and the monks in the monastery patched it with pages from the Good Friday Liturgy … I imagined this instrument as a historian, an object that collected the music of the passing centuries in the twists of its neck and the fibers of its wood, finally emerging into the light at age 400 and singing it all into the world …” she has said.

“I wanted to confidently confront the obvious challenges of writing a work for solo bass and string orchestra, so I tried to embrace the entire range of the instrument … this work is loosely based in Baroque and Renaissance idioms, music from around the time the instrument was built … that said, this piece slips between string techniques from several centuries, all while twisting a pattern of repeated chords beyond recognition …”

“Dark with excessive bright”, a phrase from Milton’s Paradise Lost, is a surreal and evocative description of God, written by a blind man … I love the impossibility of this phrase, and felt it was a strangely accurate way to describe the dark but heartrending sound of the double bass itself … I hope that listeners will be able, through this piece, to see the double bass in a new light, as a beautiful solo instrument capable of deep and varied expression,” she has said.

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