Volume 9, September 2017
Koussevitzky's Double Bass Repertoire: A Reassessment

by Andrew Kohn, Ph.D.

3. Koussevitzky also performed a pair of pieces by Glière, the earlier of two pairs composed for him.

Reinhold Glière, Four Pieces.

Intermezzo, op. 9, no. 1
Tarentella, op. 9, no. 2
Präludium, op. 32, no. 1
Scherzo, op. 32, no. 2.

The dedication, although missing from modern editions, is included in the first editions and numerous secondary sources.19 Glière and Koussevitzky enjoyed a very close relationship at the time, arguably peaking in Koussevitzky's premiere of Glière's Second Symphony with the Berlin Philharmonic on Jan. 23, 1908. That is, in 1902 Glière composed a pair of pieces as a vehicle for a young virtuoso, just starting out, and composed another pair in 1908 as — perhaps — a thank-you for a very high profile performance. According to the surviving records, despite his numerous performances of the Intermezzo and the Tarantella separately, Koussevitzky never performed op. 9 as a pair and never performed op. 32 at all.

These pieces are among the gems of the bass's concert repertoire. When the four pieces are performed as a set, op. 32 is performed first. What could follow the Tarentella, a real barn-burner? Indeed, when Koussevitzky played a pair of recitals, the Glière Tarantella closed one recital and the Bottesini Tarantella (discussed below) closed the other.