One of the requirements for a double bass student is to prepare the Vanhal concerto for the final exam. As a bass player, I really loved this piece but never felt comfortable practicing or playing it on a modern four string double bass – something always felt wrong.
All of this changed however, after I saw and heard David Sinclair play this music on the Viennese double bass. Suddenly, it made sense to me why I was struggling to make this music sound easy!
Without getting too technical, here’s the difference between the two instruments:
The bass that is commonly used today has four strings; tuned from the bottom up, E-A-D-G; the Viennese bass has 5 Strings; tuned from the bottom up, F-A-D-F#-A
Since almost all of the solo bass music written during the classical period is in D major, this tuning lends itself quite well to this repertoire and makes pieces like the ones on this recording sound fabulous, especially in the hands of someone like David.
Interested? Have a listen!
Viennese double bass concertos
Forgotten Treasures Vol. 3, ARS-Produktion
Franz Anton Hoffmeister: Double Bass Concerto in E flat major
Wencesav Pichl: Double Bass Concerto in D major
Johann Baptist Vanhal: Double Bass Concerto in E flat major
David Sinclair, Viennese double bass
Michael Alexander Willens, conductor