Giovanni Bottesini (1821–1889)Elegy No. 1 for Double Bass and Piano
Johann Sebastian Bach (1685–1750)Suite No. 2 in D Minor for Solo Cello, BWV 1008
Menuet I & II
Xavier FoleyEtude No. 3 (“Lament”) for Solo Double Bass
Dedicated to Douglas Sommer
Xavier FoleyIrish Fantasy for Solo Double Bass
(based on a folk song, “The Clergyman’s Lamentation”)
Xavier FoleyAlways on the Move for Double Bass and Piano
Reinhold Gliere (1874–1956)Intermezzo & Tarantella, Op. 9
He blogs, he writes music (at least once taking inspiration from videogame soundtracks), he has designed a carbon fiber bow, he has written a children’s book, he does online coaching, he won first place in the 2014 Sphinx Competition, and he received a prestigious 2018 Avery Fisher Career Grant. He’s Curtis-trained, Georgia-born double bassist Xavier Foley, making his AFCM debut.
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This appearance of Xavier Foley is sponsored by the generous contribution of Dagmar Cushing.
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Xavier Foley and Kelly Lin
XAVIER FOLEY is known for communicating his virtuosity and passion for music on the double bass, which is rarely presented as a solo instrument. Winner of a prestigious 2018 Avery Fisher Career Grant, he was recently recognized on New York WQXR’s “19 for 19” Artists to Watch list, and featured on PBS Thirteen’s NYC-ARTs.
Mr. Foley won the 2016 Young Concert Artists International Auditions, a Paiko Foundation Fellowship, and First Prizes at Astral’s 2014 National Auditions, Sphinx’s 2014 Competition, and the 2011 International Society of Bassists Competition.
As concerto soloist with orchestra, he has performed with the Atlanta Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, Nashville Symphony, Sphinx Symphony, and Sphinx Virtuosi at Carnegie Hall. Also a composer, Mr. Foley was co-commissioned by Carnegie Hall and the Sphinx Organization for a new work entitled “For Justice and Peace” for Violin, Bass, and String Orchestra, which was recently performed at venues including Carnegie Hall as part of a program designed to promote social justice.
A native of Marietta, Georgia, Xavier Foley is an alumnus of the Perlman Music Program, and earned his Bachelor of Music from the Curtis Institute of Music working with Edgar Meyer and Hal Robinson. His double bass was crafted by Rumano Solano.
DR. KELLY YU-CHIEH LIN is a sought-after young pianist, who began her musical studies at an early age on the piano, violin, viola, and er-hu. Soon after, she was winning national competitions and awards on all four instruments in her native Taiwan. Since moving to the United States at the age of 13, Dr. Lin has performed as a soloist with the Eastern Music Festival Philharmonic, Idyllwild Arts Academy Orchestra, and the Santa Barbara Youth Symphony, in addition to making regular appearances at Carnegie Hall in New York City. She has won the CAPMT Piano Competition, the MTAC Concerto Competition, and the Temecula Arts Council Piano Competition. She was also the second-place winner at the Los Angeles Philharmonic Piano Competition. Dr. Lin received her Doctorate of Music Art at Rutgers University in 2015, where she received a full scholarship with a teaching assistantship, while balancing a busy schedule as a solo pianist, an accompanist, a piano teacher, and a chamber musician.
On Irish Fantasy: “I decided to embark on this composition journey after listening to ‘The Clergyman’s Lamentation’ repeatedly in the background while playing an action packed role-playing game called Fate when I was 11 years old.”—Xavier Foley
KNOWN AS “the Paganini of the Bass,” the Italian double bassist, composer, and conductor Giovanni Bottesini contributed substantially to his instrument’s technique. His compositions increase the bass’s versatility by enlarging its range to a full four octaves, allowing it to sing as wide a variety of melodies as the cello. A romanticist well versed in Italy’s vocal tradition through his dual career as opera conductor and opera composer, Bottesini writes with a distinctive lyric sensibility and sensitivity to tonal color.
The Elegy in D Major (1870) is a contemplative melody of deceptive simplicity. Graceful turns and virtuoso runs ornament the elegant line. At its center the bass and piano offer an engaging operatic duet.
BACH COMPOSED HIS SIX SUITES for unaccompanied cello during his years at Cöthen (1717–1723) where he wrote much secular music for his patron, Prince Leopold. Solo writing for cello was rare at this time—the first true cello solos, a set of six suites by Domenico Gabrielli, had appeared only thirty year earlier. Although a small body of sonata literature for cello and keyboard existed, the cello most often accompanied other instruments as part of the basso continuo line.
Bach undertook his cello suites at the same time he created his monumental sonatas and partitas for unaccompanied violin. Each of these string works demands unprecedented virtuosity. Influenced by the “broken,” or freely voiced style of the French lutenists, Bach strove to create the illusion of full harmonic and contrapuntal texture by manipulating a single melodic line that sometimes outlines, but frequently only suggests, the interplay of several independent voices. Because of the virtuoso demands of the cello suites, generations of cellists chose to program only isolated movements on recitals. Only in the twentieth century did the great cellist Pablo Casals dare to perform them in their entirety.
The cello suites are actually cycles of dance movements that had become stylized by the mid eighteenth century. The framework of each suite is a set of four movements that alternate in slow-fast-slow-fast tempi: the German allemande in a moderate tempo; the livelier French courante; the dignified sarabande; and the vivacious gigue. Between the two final movements Bach customarily included short dances; in Suite No. 2 these are a pair of minuets (D minor and D major; the first minuet is then repeated). A prelude that suggests improvisatory freedom opens the suite.
ETUDES ARE DESIGNED to exploit a particular technique on a musical instrument, and they are written and used with a didactic purpose in mind. Since the 19th century, composers also wrote these pieces so that they might serve as concert works. Xavier Foley’s etudes follow this tradition. His Etude No. 3, “Lament,” begins as a series of arpeggiated figures, difficult in themselves, but pitched in the higher register of the double bass, so that the bassist is constantly playing in the upper part of the fingerboard. The middle section of the etude becomes more lyrical and reflective, but still sits high on the instrument. Foley writes of this piece: “ ‘Lament’ is the third solo etude I’ve composed, dedicated to my former teacher, Douglas Sommer, who passed away in 2014. He was a bassist with the Atlanta Symphony for 25 years and was also an incredible role model for young bassists.”
About Irish Fantasy, Foley explains its origins: “Always in search of new and exciting works for the double bass, I’ve come to love composing and thoroughly enjoy expanding the repertoire for my instrument. The exotic sounds in Irish and Chinese folk music intrigue me, and this piece is grounded in these very different and unique sound worlds. My Irish Fantasy has its roots in the Irish folk tune ‘The Clergyman’s Lamentation’ by Turlough O’Carolan. My goal was to create a more substantial and virtuosic showpiece, inspired by Max Bruch’s Scottish Fantasy.”
Always on the Move is a more ambitious composition in terms of length, and Foley discusses his inspiration: “This work is structured in three movements and draws influence from a wide range of musical backgrounds, from Michael Jackson all the way to ambient music. It is symbolic for thinking outside the ‘classical influence’ box, while staying true to the traditional form techniques taught in music composition. Always on the Move was commissioned by Clarion Concerts.”
TRAINED AT THE MOSCOW CONSERVATORY by the romanticists Sergey Tanayev and Anton Arensky, Glière became one of Russia’s most noted pedagogues. After the Revolution of 1917 Glière remained in Russia as a steadying link to its past. Always intrigued by Russia’s folk tradition, with the encouragement of the Composers’ Union Glière began to investigate Central Asian music. In the latter part of his career he wrote large scale works based on themes of the Caucasus (including his popular 1927 ballet The Red Poppy, actually set in China).
A close friend of the double bassist (and eventual conductor) Serge Koussevitzky, Glière advised him on the composition of his double bass concerto; doubtless Koussevitzky enlightened Glière about bass technique for his own Opus 9 (1902). Glière dedicated the pair of bass compositions to his friend and published them in 1905.
Glière wrote his Opus 9 with Koussevitzky’s virtuosity in mind. The Opus 9 No. 1 Intermezzo (A major) is a lyrical statement marked Andantino grazioso, or somewhat slow and graceful. Gentle variations of tempo vary the flow, and a long ritardando brings the movement to a soft conclusion. Opus 9 No. 2 (Allegro vivace, D minor) is a vigorous tarantella, a frenzied Italian dance that wards off death from a venomous spider bite with ever faster movements. Its rapid high-register passages, intricate ornamental effects, and wide range of bowings create a virtuoso showpiece for the performer.
Notes by Nancy Monsman (Bottesini, Bach, and Glière) and Xavier Foley