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Corrado Canonici

Cover Photo: Piero Principi

Catalog Number: CPS-8628
Audio Format: Stereo, DDD
Playing Time: 62:50
Release Date: 1995

Track Listing & Audio Samples
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    Dinu Ghezzo
  1. Five Corrado Songs (14:15)
    for contrabass & interactive computer
    Luciano Berio
Psy (1:40)
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    Luca Macchi
  3. Anafora (9:29)
    Suzanne Giraud
  4. Bleu et ombre (9:13)
    with Ombretta Macchi, voice
    Daniel Kessner
  5. Circle Music I-B (10:30)
    with Paolo Zannini, piano
    Giacinto Scelsi
  6. Maknongan (3:47)
    for a singing contrabassist
    John Cage
  7. Music for two (5:41)
    with Guido Arbonelli, clarinet
    Ronald Mazurek
  8. Cries of the innocent (8:15)
    for contrabass, dancer & electronic tape


Relate Links

Corrado Canonici



The British & International Bass Forum Magazine - June, 1996 - by David Heyes

"Much contemporary music depends on the visual aspect of performance as much as the musical, and many contemporary recordings can leave one with a sense of disappointment when the spectacle of performing is missing. This new recording by Corrado Canonici happily does not fall into this category and the choice of repertoire and use of electronics, voice, clarinet and piano contrast the texture, timbres and effects available to the contemporary bassist.

Corrado Canonici specialises in performing works from the latter part of the twentieth century and is a regular prizewinner and performer at the leading contemporary festivals around the world.

This CD was recorded in 1995 and begins with Five Corrado Songs by the Romanian composer, Dinu Ghezzo (b. 1941), composed in 1993 for Canonici and combines the sound of the double bass with interactive computer. This is an effective work creating a dialogue between the soloist and the computer, utilising different registers of the bass with many styles of performance (gliss, pizz, sul pont, col legno) and this is a recording of great energy and contrasts.

Psy for solo double bass by Luciano Berio (b. 1925) was composed in 1989 for the birthday of a friend, but remained unperformed until 1993 when it was premiered in Rome by Canonici. This short solo (1’40") has energy and forward momentum combining ‘moto perpetuo’ passages with lyrical episodes and many double stops.

Anafora by the Italien composer Luca Macchi (b. 1965) is an extended work for solo double bass that portrays a sense of time and space contrasting well the different timbres, moods and styles. The piece is reliant on the atmospheric changes of mood as the styles fade from one musical form to another and includes the obvious influence of jazz pizzicato to great effect.

The recording succeeds for a number of reasons, not least the exciting choice of excellent repertoire combining solo bass with contrasting instruments -–including computer and demonstrating the many performance modes of the contemporary bassist.

Suzanne Giraud (b. 1958) combines double bass with voice to great effect with the vocal line using a range of styles (singing, speech, sprechgesang) in Blue et obre. Sustained harmonics are used effectively, and the middle section is a double-stopped ‘moto perpetuo’ building to a frenzied climax. The work begins and ends with a feeling of calm serenity created by sustained double bass harmonics.

Circle Music I-B by Daniel Kessner (b. 1946) is the only work for double bass and piano and was "composed as a close circle, without a fixed beginning or ending." There are passages of tenderness and lyricism combined with moments of great vitality and energy and this is an effective duet, dating from 1986.

The remainder of the recording (Scelsi, Cage, Mazurek) demonstrates Canonici’s unique talents as a virtuoso of contemporary music, and although this will not be to everyone’s taste, these are performances of vitality and commitment."


The Wire - May 1998 - by Andy Hamilton

I guess Contrabass is the title of the album, and its also Canonici's instrument. The most substantial pieces is by Romanian composer Dinu Ghezzo the exuberant Five Corrado Songs for bass and interactive computer. Dont get too excited about the world premiere recording by Italian maestro Luciano Berio Psy for solo bass is only 100 seconds long. More familiar fare nowadays is Scelsis Maknongan for singing bassist, and Cages Music For Two, with Canonici joined by Guido is a phenomenal bass player, and this mostly solo album consistently holds the interest.


20th Century Music - January 1998 - by Mark Alburger

"What's the deal with multisyllabic alliteratively-appelated Italian bassists? First Stefano Scodanibbio, now Corrado Canonici. Both share a progressive repertory and first-rate virtuosity. Corrado Canonici's solo Capstone release includes a premiere recording of Luciano Berio, as well as music by Cage, Scelsi, and a number of other progressive composers.

It gets right down to business with Dinu Ghezzo's "Five Conado Songs" (1993) for contrabass and interactive computer, which requires moans and howls from its namesake player along with wild bass figuration, Crumbian buzzes and seagulls, ritual flauting, and crazy contrapuntal responses. I played this Halloween night at high volumes; it definitely set a mood and got attention. The "Five Corrado Songs" ("A Soldier Song," "Contastorie," "Doinas," Cypher Song," and "Canto Canonico") are quite varied and among the strongest offerings on the CD.

Berio's "Pay" (1989) for solo contrabass also gets attention, but at 1'40," in a briefer, perpetual-arco manner. The work was premiered by Canonici in 1993. The ensuing "Anafora" (1990 - also for solo bass) of Luca Macchi almost functions as a sustained working-out of the Berio-as-prelude.

As commanding is "Bleu et ombre" for contrabass and voice, by Suzanne Giraud. Ombretta Macchi's solo soprano leaps out of the recording from some other concert space -- that of the traditional avant-garde art-song. There's a bit of the Schoenberg "Ewartung" frenzy, but the most interesting freneticism remains with the bass.

In a like leaping manner, Daniel Kessner's "Circle Music I-B" for contrabass and piano emerges and bounces out of academic atonality like a disoriented Hindemith, Messiaen, or Crumb -- angular, ornamented, alternately mysterious and jaunty. To paraphrase Stravinsky's comment about the "Pulcinella" duet: the piano has a very loud voice, whereas the bass has almost no voice at all.

Giacinto Scelsi returns us to an earlier low-tech version of the Ghezzo with "Maknongan" for a singing contrabassist. Or perhaps it is Canonici himself, who notes:

"Maknongan" (1976) can be played by any kind of bass instrument, or bass voice. But the Zen way of composing by Scelsi, suggested to me "to play and to sing" this composition in unison. This idea creates a symbiotic sound, where the true singer is perhaps the contrabass, or the true contrabass is perhaps the voice: a non-instrument playing a non-composition.

In any case, Scelsi is here -- as always -- non-settling, non-ordinary, and non-boring.

Canonici also joins the creative process in John Cage's "Music for two" (1988) which can be played by a different number of musicians (the original title was "Music for...") and with different durations (from a few seconds to 30 minutes). Canonici is joined by clarinetist Guido Arbonelli for 5'41" of semi-aleatoric fun (while the musical fragments are strictly notated, their arrangement is at the discretion of the players).

Symmetrically reflecting the high-tech of the opening work, Ronald Mazureks "Cries of the innocent" (for contrabass, dancer, and electronic tape) closes the CD on an exciting yet serious tack, taking as its text the words of Jesus from the cross, "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken me?" While the dancer has apparently forsaken the recording, the adventurous listener will not."


The Music Connoisseur - Winter-Spring, 1996 - by B.L.C.

"The double bass, like the viola, the trombone, the marimba and many other instruments, had to wait a while before receiving attention by composers as a viable solo instrument. Such a situation may be attributed to today's composers' resourcefulness and daring or, perhaps, their desire to fill a gap and draw on some new sonorities. Another, more widely held argument, is that today's instrumentalists are simply better than ever and have voracious appetites for new material. After listening to this unusual and intriguing CD, we are thoroughly convinced of the latter proposition.

Corrado Canonici is a contrabassist for whom composers are actually writing new works, so that he doesn't have to depend on transcriptions from the cello literature in order to practice his art. No less a contemporary composer than Luciano Berio wrote Psy for the instrument. No matter that it was done for a friend's birthday and lasts all of a minute and 40 seconds -- it is toccata-like in form and substantially effective in Canonici's hands. Mr. Macchi's Anafora ("Amphora"), on the other hand, like its subject, seems to harbor ancient mysteries, an impression enhanced by the use of alternating arco and pizzicato passages.

The one other unaccompanied piece here is by Scelsi, a little known composer, said to be a lover of Zen, who worked in France between 1930 and 1970. The piece calls for a Zen idea: voice at one with nature. Canonici has chosen to hum along with the musical line to create a "symbiotic sound." One finds the result something like the unison sonority of voice with one of those buzzing computer samples.

In contrast, Dinu Ghezzo creates a true dialogue between bass player and interactive computer, in a work written for Canonici complete with word play on his name (e.g.,the last of the five songs is titled "Canto Canonico and is, in fact, a canon.) The 14-minute "suite' is musically adventurous with improvisations galore along with complex counterpoint. The computer's responses to the bass player are outrageous, ranging from a dogged putt-putting to extreme shifts of pitch at the limits of the string bass range.

Two more duets are the Cage and the Kessner, exemplifying quite different approaches to indeterminacy. Cage asks that his forces -- these are optional -- play from a strictly notated score but not necessarily in sequence, while Kessner in his piece (running at 10:30 here) leaves the point of entry up to the performers and makes a tighter demand on duration than does Cage. Canonici and his partners are intensely respectful to the schemes called for here, but the results are largely those of esoteric musical exercises.

Two more selections call for the human voice. Ms. Giraud's largely symmetrical "Blue and Gray" utilizes a soprano in monodrama fashion. i.e., in both singing and speaking a French text which, sad to say, is not translated in the liner notes (except to cite the textual element as "more psychologically intimate than the bassist's role"). But that part is complex enough, with continual shifts in mood, tempo and dynamics.

Mr. Mazurek's opus is largely a theatrical work incorporating strong visual touches and performer improvisation. Of course, we can only judge it on the merits of The music, and that is impressive. There is a part for prerecorded tape containing a reading in Latin of Christ's last words on the cross, epitomizing for the composer the cries of all those who have suffered since. Near the end, Mr. Canonici, is asked to do an actor's improvisation on those words, a task he renders quite movingly. The piece serves as a fitting finale to the CD, as this gifted virtuoso seems to summarize all that has preceded it with genuine involvement.

The recording is blessed with far better than average sound thanks to the work of Francesco Sardella and staff and the obviously amenable acoustics of the Pink House Studio in Monsano, Italy. Congratulations to Capstone for another winning entry in the accelerating field of new-music recording."


Turok's Choice - May, 1996 - by Paul Turok

"The excellent bassist Corrado Canonici offers contemporary music for his instrument, including two impressive unaccompanied works by Italian composers: Berios tiny Psy, and Luca Macchi's extended Anfora. Works by Scelsi, Cage and others seem forced by comparison."