The Strad Issue: March 2015
Description: Virtuoso bass playing in rarely heard Catalan miniatures
Musicians: Leon Bosch (double bass) Sung-Suk Kang, Min-Jung Kym (piano)
Composer: Cervera-Bret

The double bassist–composer Josep Cervera-Bret (1883–1969) is the least known of the trio of virtuosos (the others were Pedro Valls and Anton Torello) who comprised the Catalan school of double bass playing. A player in his own cobla ensemble, he produced more than 60 solo pieces for his instrument.

The items on South African-born Leon Bosch’s disc are mostly polite genre pieces, less interesting for their musical depth than for the platform they offer the intrepid player.

Bosch, author of this month’s Masterclass, successfully conveys the charm and lyricism of these would-be salon pieces yet also takes on the showier technical challenges in the variations of the Fascinación, as well as those on the theme of ‘God Save the King’ in the Recuerdo de Londres (‘Souvenir of London’). Elsewhere there’s notable fluidity in the Reverie and surprisingly elegant portamento in Cielo gris (‘Grey Sky’). His performance of Cervera-Bret’s take on ‘The Carnival of Venice’ is reserved for the end, calling for extremely high harmonics, nimble traversals of the fingerboard and good-humoured hocketing between octaves. The recording quality is a touch boxy but pianists Sung-Suk Kang and Min-Jung Kym serve Bosch well, even though the CD notes leave us guessing as to which pianist performs where.