Revealing the compass of the instrument and what it is capable of was one of the goals of the CD Discovering the Double Bass. Through it, I hope to hand down tips about authenticity of performance I received from Victor Watson, Koussevitsky, de Sabata and many others.
Victor Watson gave me the tempi that he and Koussevitsky played the Duos. The Polacca was a little slower than I have sometimes heard it played, but it makes sense because the gut strings they used in those days were slower to respond than our modern metal strings. I know this because I played on gut strings for many years. Even if one fingered and executed a rapid passage sometimes it did not come off because of the blurred effect of the gut strings. It may be my old age but tempi generally seem to be faster than years ago, but I also think this may be due to the technical improvements that have taken place in instrument manufacture as well as the improvement in string making, besides, although a Polacca is meant to be brilliant, I don’t think the slightly slower tempi I have chosen that Victor Watson gave me have lessened the effect.
In bar 59, it is marked “a piacere,” at pleasure. You will notice on the CD that I have made a “rallentando” on that bar, and the next bar is played double the speed, this also was in the information given to me by Mr. Watson. Koussevitsky was playing first bass. In bar 116 I make the “glissando” from the A to D harmonic that was also recommended to me by Victor, also you will notice a complete break that is not marked in the printed part at the end of bar 129 that then leads back into the first subject. These are only some of the many subtleties that I had the good fortune to be given.