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Prelude & Canzonetta

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Composed in 2011, these two short pieces are lyrical and accessible, within a modern idiom, offering new and exciting repertoire for the adventurous double bassist. They explore the higher register of the instrument, partnered by a strongly independent and supportive piano accompaniment, with musical and technical challenges in equal measure.

This edition includes one piano accompaniment and two double bass parts - for solo and orchestral tunings.


The composer writes: The Prelude is a set of variations resembling a passacaglia with a slow tempo. The theme is heard first in the piano after which there are three variations with the double bass that builds in activity and dynamic as the piano part descends in pitch. Succeeding this is a final variation in which the double bass returns to the first melody as a conclusion to the movement.

Canzonetta, as the name implies, is like a little song. The tempo and mood is lively and the effect is amiable throughout. It is organised into three saections, each beginning with the main theme and concludes with a coda that reaches its strongest effect at the end.


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. RM502
Supplier Code RM502
Price £7.50
ComposerArmand Russell
CategoryDouble Bass & Piano
PublisherRecital Music
Difficulty level8, Advanced
ISMN 979-0-57045-502-7
EAN-13 9790570455027
Weight 95 grams
Published 20th April 2012
Availability 8 in stock
See also...
RM545  Hawai'i Variations