Developing the Double Bass Concerto

Enno Senft, soloist in the world premiere of Dai Fujikura’s Double Bass Concerto on 5 November, talks about his close involvement in its composition.

Enno Senft and Dai Fujikura in rehearsal (image © Briony Campbell)

The Double Bass Concerto grew out of a close collaboration between Dai and I.  After  performing two of Dai’s  challenging ensemble pieces, Fifth Station and Blue Sky Falling, I was excited as well as daunted by the idea of him writing a bass concerto for me. We met at my house looking for inspiration for Dai’s creative mind. I first freely demonstrated the instrument’s more conventional characteristics- its timbre, resonance, harmonics, gentle dynamics, and colours in the middle register.  Then I moved to more experimental, extended techniques, for example treating the bass like a big guitar  (many taxi driver’s preferred description of the bass!), using arpeggio chords, fast tremolo and slap effects.

Dai’s lateral approach to the instrument encouraged me to get carried away with suggestions like changing the tuning of the instrument altogether, extreme tremolo effects on high treble harmonics (imitating an electric guitar) and playing both parts of the stopped string. I forgot in this process that Dai videoed all of this, but certainly remembered when the score of his first preliminary solo piece ES  landed on my music stand! This piece introduced many of the ideas that later became the material for the Double Bass Concerto.  Now I faced unprecedented technical challenges, partly brought about by myself!

Subsequently, we worked closely together to find realistic solutions which make musical sense and fit with Dai’s aesthetic language.  In some ways, the new techniques used in the Double Bass Concerto has meant that learning the concerto has been like learning a new instrument.

I believe that Dai has created a truly innovative concerto that tells its own story and well as realising the full potential of the solo double bass.

Enno Senft, London Sinfonietta Principal double bass

Click here to hear extracts of Enno and the London Sinfonietta rehearsing the Double Bass Concerto.

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