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Six Sonatas: Book 1 - Sonatas 1-3 (Solo tuning)

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100 publications in this series

The Transcriptions Series series

Recital Music publish a wealth of original works for double bass alongside a popular, accessible and growing range of transcriptions for bassists of all ages and abilities. Most transcriptions published by Recital Music are by David Heyes, who has a successful and proven track record when arranging for double bass.


This edition is also available as a pdf file - please contact Recital Music (doublebass@tiscali.co.uk)

My exploration of the Vivaldi cello sonatas began in 1994 after I heard my mentor, Edgar Meyer, perform a stunningly beautiful rendition of Sonata No. 6 at Vanderbilt University. Edgar opted for a minimalist approach to the music, accompanied simply by a bass line in the piano and with very few embellishments in the solo line. At around the same time, I discovered the playing of French cellist Christophe Coin, whose expressive and historically informed recording of the six sonatas I admire to this day. With these two great artists as my principal influences, I thus began a 20-year-long journey of study and appreciation for Vivaldi's works.

I enjoy these pieces for their relative simplicity, but also for their musical vibrancy. I have examined earlier Vivaldi sonata transcriptions in which the solo bass part sounds an octave below original pitch, and while one can certainly appreciate Vivaldi's genius in those editions even the best performances lack a certain brilliance of sound. In my transcriptions I have attempted to capture the original, virtuosic spirit of the pieces, while at the same time showcasing the natural timbre and resonance of the bass. I have sought to select an idiomatic key and flattering tessitura for each sonata – neither too low nor too high for effective performance on the bass – and I have also allowed for performance in either orchestral or solo tuning, depending on the needs and preferences of the performer. The only sonata that retains its original key and tessitura is the third, which sounds in A minor when played in solo tuning. The others range from a fifth below original pitch (Sonata No. 5, originally in E minor, transposed to A minor in orchestral tuning) to a minor second below original pitch (Sonata No. 1, originally in B-flat major, transposed to A major in solo tuning).

A secondary, but no less important, issue is the style of the accompaniment. I enjoy playing these pieces with a simple bass line accompaniment, but I recognize that most players prefer a more substantial and supportive keyboard accompaniment. My main concern was avoiding an overly busy or convoluted piano part, a problem that I've experienced with many 20th century transcriptions of Baroque repertoire. I therefore tried to keep the keyboard texture as transparent as possible while still providing adequate support for the solo line. In most instances the piano part is limited to 2 contrapuntal lines, or simply block chords, thus allowing the solo part to shine.

My principal source for these transcriptions was the first printed edition of the works, published in Paris by Le Clerc in around 1740. In addition, I used two primary sources that predate the more standard Le Clerc: a manuscript of Sonatas 1-6 from the Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris; and a manuscript of Sonata 6 from the library of the Counts of Schönborn-Wiesentheid in Wiesentheid, Germany.

I hope that my transcriptions inspire many other bassists to explore these fantastic works of art.

George Speed
August 2018

Bassist GEORGE SPEED enjoys a career that combines teaching with solo, chamber, and orchestral performing. He is Associate Professor of Double Bass at Oklahoma State University and Principal Bass of the Oklahoma City Philharmonic. In 2016, Mr. Speed joined the artist faculty of the Brevard Music Center in Brevard, North Carolina.Orchestral playing is central to Mr. Speed's career. Prior to his appointment with the OKC Philharmonic, he held a position with the (now defunct) Florida Philharmonic Orchestra. For 17 years Mr. Speed was a regular player with the Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra, including numerous television broadcasts and domestic and international tours. He has also performed with the Boston Symphony, Dallas Symphony, Fort Worth Symphony, and Handel and Haydn Society, among others. George Speed is passionate about both chamber music and solo performance. A frequent recitalist, he also plays regularly with the Oklahoma City-based chamber ensemble Brightmusic. In August 2018, Centaur Records released Mr. Speed's recording of his Vivaldi cello sonata transcriptions.
A devoted educator, Mr. Speed received the 2009 Wise-Diggs-Berry Award for Teaching Excellence in the Arts at Oklahoma State University. In 2005, he was a co-founder of the Oklahoma Bass Bash, a summer clinic for Oklahoma pre-college bassists. The Bass Bash, now in its fourteenth year, is a thriving collaborative effort between OSU and the University of Oklahoma. A native of Spartanburg, South Carolina, Mr. Speed earned his Bachelor of Music degree, summa cum laude, from Vanderbilt University's Blair School of Music, and his Master of Music degree from Boston University. Additional studies include two summers at both the Aspen Music Festival and the Tanglewood Music Center. His principal teachers have been Edwin Barker, Edgar Meyer, and Bill Scott.

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Cat No. RM1014
Supplier Code RM1014
Price £12.50
ComposerAntonio Vivaldi
CategoryDouble Bass & Piano
PublisherRecital Music
SeriesTranscriptions Series
Difficulty level7 - 8, Advanced
Weight 163 grams
Published 9th November 2018
Availability 4 in stock
See also...
RM1008  Six Sonatas: Book 1 - Sonatas 1-3 (Orchestral tuning)
RM1009  Six Sonatas: Book 2 - Sonatas 4-6 (Orchestral tuning)