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Karel Reiner (1910-1979) was a prolific composer and was the only Czech composer to survive the Terezin Concentration Camp during the Second World War. This three-movement sonata, dating from the late 1950s, is standard repertoire in Central Europe and has been out of print for a number of years. The style is modern, adventurous, lyrical, acerbic, dramatic, rhythmic and advanced, with musical and technical challenges for both performers. This is a worthy addition to the serious solo repertoire and has been recorded a number of times.

Karel Reiner's Sonata for double bass and piano was composed in 1958 and published by Panton a year later. The three movement work is dedicated to professor Frantisek Hertl and is both a lyrical and melodic work within a modern and contemporary idiom. It uses much of the range of the solo double bass and exploits the cantabile qualities of the instrument, set against an accompaniment of expressive tone colours and a rich harmonic palette. This is an important mid-20th century work which should find its place into the standard repertoire.

The first movement has a heroic and triumphal character, contrasted by the more funereal and soulful lament of the second movement. The finale is in the form of a scherzo, and recalls the Czech matenik (an old Czech dance in variable time), and is full of humour, rhythm and energy. The Sonata had been out of print for a number of years and was very pleased to create a new edition with the help and support of the composer's widow, Mrs Hana Reinerova.

"Karel Reiner's Sonata for Double Bass and Piano (1958) opens in an aggressive and intensive way which immediately grabs the listener's attention. The piece is full of strident dissonances; the bassist playing at full or near-full volume over a harmonically ambiguous piano accompaniment. While the piece is largely tonal, this tonality is constantly threatened by pungent semitones that populate its thematic material. Indeed, the strong presence of tonic and dominant relationships throws these contrasting dissonances into sharp relief. Those who know the Expressionist music of Alban Berg will find themselves on familiar ground here: this piece was written by a Holocaust survivor and the work's ominous, dark atmosphere - full of shrill yet lyrical writing, dissonance and tonal ambiguity - seem to speak of the pain and anguish of the human condition rather than its triumphs.
Technically, this is a very comfortable piece to play because most of the melodic material is based on thirds (particularly minor) and semitones, with few large leaps. The three movements vary significantly from one another: in the mournful second movement, marked Poco grave, the accompaniment explores various keys, which are constantly undermined and resisted by the double bass as it meanders around a semitone melody. Amid the tension created by this conflict, major and minor triads emerge dramatically. According to the notes accompanying the music, the third movement, Allegro vivo, is based on a Czech dance. While the harmonic language does not particularly lend itself to creating the sound of a joyful dance, this movement nevertheless has a spirited energy and concludes on the chord of B major.
This is an interesting addition to the double bass repertoire; whether modern audiences will appreciate its brash and unremitting dissonance is open to debate." [Double Bassist]

Available in solo tuning only

Performance Level: Advanced
LLCM in Performance


  • Allegro energico
  • Allegro vivo
  • Poco grave

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Cat No. RM314
Price £18.50
ComposerKarel Reiner
CategoryDouble Bass & Piano
PublisherRecital Music
Difficulty levelAdvanced
ISMN 979-0-57045-314-6
EAN-13 9790570453146
Weight 204 grams
Published 4th September 2003
Availability 4 in stock
See also...
RM571  Sonatine
RM911  October Morn (OBOE & DOUBLE BASS)