Edgar Meyer in Recital, Milwaukee

Discussion in 'Bassists [DB]' started by Mike Goodbar, Apr 21, 2004.

  1. I had the opportunity to see Edgar Meyer in concert last night at the Pabst Theater in Milwaukee. I’d never seen him play live, and it was gratifying to me that program was a straight bass/piano recital with his longtime accompanist Amy Dorfmann. I do enjoy his work with other instrumentalists (Marshall, Fleck, etc.), but I was glad to see that it was “pure Edgar.”

    The program for the first half began with the Eccles Sonata. A pretty straightforward reading, with the exception of playing the first repeat of the first movement almost entirely on the D string, giving the repeated section an entirely different color. Also the last movement was played fast -- and I mean FAST.

    Next, he played the entire first Bach cello suite. I’ve been working on the Prelude, so this was an opportunity to cop some fingerings. Extensive use of thumb in the lower octave explained a lot of it, but much of it was just pure virtuosity, no tricks. A note about Edgar’s interpretation: I’ve read some criticism of Edgar’s Suites as being “sterile” and “machine-like.” But to me, Bach’s music has a certain almost mathematical beauty all its own, and it takes great restraint on the part of the performer to reveal this, which Edgar did. His dynamics were incredibly subtle but perfectly utilized, vibrato was nearly entirely eschewed, and tempos stayed solid, without the rubato-esque phrasing you sometimes hear. After all, this is a DANCE suite.

    In a more romantic vein, he played a transcription of a Bloch Rhapsody from Suite Hebraique, and the Chopin Nocturne in C# minor. Even here, vibrato was used sparingly as an ornament, Meyer building drama instead with tonal shading and dynamics. He ended with Fritz Kreisler’s “Tambourine Chinois,” a pure chops display that drew audible gasps from the audience (including my own).

    The second half was devoted to Meyer’s own compositions. He played the latest version of Amalgamations for Solo Bass, a couple of untitled selections which comprised a lullaby-like ballade, a montudo-based piece and a piece call “Canon”(I should note that the piano parts were in many ways as virtuosic as the bass’). He finished the program with “The Great Green Sea Snake” and a set of traditional jigs he’d arranged. Despite a long ovation, he offered no encore, much to the audience’s disappointment.

    I don’t know what his bass is (a smallish 3/4, Italian I assume)but Edgar’s sound easily filled the 600-seat theater (though the pianist used the soft pedal for all the pieces). I won’t fill up more space, but I think this concert left a huge impression on every one in the audience and certainly confirmed in my mind Meyer’s utterly unique and distinctive virtuosity, which until now I’d only heard on recordings.
  2. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    Wish I'd been there!

    It was probably his Gabrielli.
  3. Just a comment about the cello suites - they are all dances - many players forget this in their interpretation - I've got a disc of Tortellier that makes so much use of rubato even Loveblown couldn't make a ballad of it.
  4. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    Victoria, TX
    Hearing his recordings was what got me onto the bow in the first place, to hear what a guy can do with it to make music with the bass. Thanks very much Mike for the Edgar Meyer review.