Daly’s “Titanic” Double Bass Impresses

David Daly

TITANIC DOUBLE BASS / TRADITIONAL: Erin’s Lament (arr. Pillow). ECCLES: Sonata in G min. DRAGONETTI: Duetto for Bass & Cello.* KINSELLA: 15th April 1912. SCHUBERT: Arpeggione Sonata / David Daly, bs; Paul Turner, pn; *Jesper Svedberg, cello / David Daly Music DDM 001

David Daly, principal bassist of the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, here presents his debut solo disc after more than 100 CDs as an ensemble player. The album was inspired by a centenary tour he made in 2012 to commemorate the sinking of the Titanic, on which his great-uncle Eugene was a passenger (and musician, playing the bagpipes). Indeed, it begins with the tune that Eugene played on the deck of the ship, the traditional Irish tune Erin’s Lament.

Daly has a rich tone but appears to play, at least in this opening track, with straight tone. Nonetheless, he bends the notes in appropriate Irish fashion and gives the music great feeling. I was also very impressed by Paul Turner’s pianism. Perhaps because of the sad nature of the event being commemorated here, I also found his performance of the Eccles sonata (also played with ahistoric straight tone) somewhat sad in demeanor, but his mastery of his instrument is never in question. Daly can surely make his instrument “sing,” and that in itself is a miracle. He never gets bogged down in the “heavy” bass sound one hears from so many other performers on this instrument.

By contrast, the Dragonetti duo for bass and cello is very lovely music, played with tenderness and feeling. John Kinsella’s musical tribute to the Titanic disaster, 15th April 1912, is by contrast a remarkable and fascinating piece of music, even taken on its own merits apart from the emotional connotation. But then, I’ve long admired some of Kinsella’s work in other settings, so this wasn’t that great of a surprise to me. Kinsella’s pacing and shaping of the music, quite apart from the technical demands he makes on the instrument, keep one riveted while listening, and Daly plays it with tremendous feeling as well as a superb technique. This is clearly one of the great highlights of this album!

Daly’s performance of Schubert’s “Arpeggione” Sonata is, I feel, successful more for the amount of feeling that he puts into the music than for the transcription. He does an excellent job of trying to lighten his instrument’s tone, but the lower pitch tends to make the music a bit heavier than I liked. In addition, I felt that, perhaps, his desire to project lightness created a less dynamic reading of the score. Nonetheless, it is an interesting performance, and Turner’s piano accompaniment goes a long way towards lightening the mood. I also noted that Daly played with a light vibrato in the second movement, which helped immensely.

Taken as a whole, this is a fascinating disc, well worth hearing for Daly’s outstanding lyricism and command of his instrument.

—© 2018 Lynn René Bayley

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