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Va Pensiero (Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves)

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Price £9.50

Others in the series:

Air Varie on a theme of…
Meditation from Thais
Intermezzo from 'Goyesca…
The Can-Can
La Traviata Prelude
Rigoletto Solo
Arias
Romance de L'Elisir d'Am…
Otello Solo
Two Russian Arias

The A night at the Opera series

The world of opera has long inspired composers and players to plunder the best arias and melodies to transcribe for other instruments. The double bass is no exception and Bottesini's operatic fantasias are still at the very heart of our solo repertoire into the 21st-century.
Recital Music publish a number of opera transcriptions - works for double bass and piano or double bass ensemble - and there are many more works in various stages of publication. It's difficult to keep a good tune down!


Va pensiero (Va, pensiero, sull'ali dorate - Fly, thought, on wings of gold, in English also known as Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves) is a chorus from the third act of Nabucco (1842) by Giuseppe Verdi, with words by Temistocle Solera, inspired by Psalm 137. It recollects the story of Jewish exiles from Judea after the loss of the First Temple in Jerusalem. The opera with its powerful chorus established Verdi as a major composer in 19th century Italy.

Verdi composed Nabucco at a difficult moment in his life. He had a contract with La Scala (Milan) to write another opera and the director forced the libretto into his hands. Returning home, it happened to open to "Va, pensiero" and seeing the phrase, he heard the words singing. At the first rehearsal "the stagehands shouted their approval, then beat on the floor and the sets with their tools to create an even noisier demonstration".

Armand Russell's masterly transcription of this popular of Italian 19th-century choruses offers much for both players and audiences alike. There and musical and technical challenges for each player producing a work which would fit easily into any bass quartet concert.


Armand Russell was born in Seattle, Washington in 1932. He received the Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degrees from the University of Washington, with a major in music composition, and a Doctorate in music composition from the Eastman School of Music. He studied double bass with Leslie Martin, who played in the Seattle Symphony and Boston Symphony Orchestras, and at the Eastman School of Music with Oscar Zimmerman. His composition studies were with John Verrall and George McKay at the University of Washington, and with Bernard Rogers and Howard Hanson at the Eastman School.

Professionally, Armand Russell played double bass in many orchestras including the Seattle Symphony Orchestra, Boston Pops Tour Orchestra, Rochester Philharmonic and Civic Orchestras, and Honolulu Symphony. For five years he taught as a visiting Professor at the Eastman School of Music. From 1961 to 1994 he taught at the University of Hawaii Music Department and retired as Professor emeritus in 1994. While at the University of Hawaii he taught music theory, composition and double bass and also served as Chair of the Music Department for seven years.

Armand Russell has composed many works for double bass and also percussion, including solos, chamber music and concertos. Some of his most frequently performed works include Chaconne (Db/Pno), Buffo Set (Db/Pno), Harlequin Concerto (Db/Orch), Pas de Deux (Cl/Perc), Percussion Suite, Theme & Fantasia (Concert Band) and Suite Concertante (Tuba/Wind Quintet). He has also composed several works for choirs in recent years and has continued to write for the double bass alongside a growing body of chamber music and transcriptions.

Armand Russell's compositional style is confident and direct with a clarity of line and texture always to the fore. A modern, yet lyrical and accessible style, has created works which communicate equally to performers and audiences alike and he has made, and continues to make, a unique and valuable contribution to the double bass litereature throughout a long and successful career.

Recital Music is planning a celebration of Armand Russell's music at Bass-Fest in 2012 to celebrate the composers 80th birthday.

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Cat No. RM489
Supplier Code RM489
Price £9.50
ComposerGiuseppe Verdi
ArrangerArmand Russell
CategoryDouble Bass Quartet
PublisherRecital Music
Series A night at the Opera
Difficulty level8, Advanced
ISMN 979-0-57045-489-1
EAN-13 9790570454891
Weight 99 grams
Published 26th March 2012
Availability 5 in stock
See also...
RM042  Otello Solo
RM296  La Traviata Prelude (DOUBLE BASS OCTET)
RM311  Rigoletto Solo (DOUBLE BASS SEXTET)