Schifrin, Lalo

Lalo Schifrin Conducts Stravinsky, Schifrin And Ravel

As a musician of European ancestry born in Latin America, I became fascinated a few years ago by the discovery that a composer like Antonio Vavaldi had written an opera about the Aztec emperor Montezuma. When in January 1986, virtuoso Gary Karr commissioned me to wrtie a piece for the double bass and orchestra, he asked me to write something lyrical. "I would like to make the instrument sing," he said. Immediately I decided to write a concerto in the shape f an opera, where the double bass would be the protagonist (basso). Obviously this "opera" did not have a story but the Montezuma/Vivaldi connection triggered an imiginary musical diom based on neobaroque and Indo-American element. I was compelled by the idea of alternating colorful scenes ("dances," "choruses") with introspective "aria, recitativos, and duets." However, the challenge was to give an internal unity to the many elements and at the same time create a howcase for the solo instrument. Like Europeans exploring terra incognita, I sailed through the strings of the bass. Gary Karr himself helped me too with a catalogue of possible extensions, figurations, bowing technique and articulations which I proceeded to integate into the work. I am almost certain that the double bass does not portray the characters of either Montezuma or Vivaldi, but rather the subjective impressions of a modern observer who attempts to interpret the interdependence of particular historical events and searches his own soul while reviewing parades of orchestral timbers joining their rhythms and "singing" along with their melodic contours. - Lalo Schifrin

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