One of the concerts I attended in Lucca’s BASS2018 LUCCA (Sixth European Biennial Double Bass Congress and Festival running from July 30th to August 5th, 2018) was that held in the Boccherini conservatoire’s red room. The performers were Valentina Ciardelli (double bass), Anna Quiroga (harp) and Stefano Teani (piano).
It was a quite fantastic concert: lively, different, lyrical, surreal, fun, fab, with something to please all except for one person (wait till the end to find out).
The afternoon recital started with something frenetically Rossinian. It was a real challenge to play this piece in the mounting heat of a Lucca scorched by one of its hottest days.
The both lyrical and witty second item was composed by Valentina.
Other pieces followed including some by Frank Zappa (Valentina’s sobriquet is ‘Zappawoman’).
Valentina’s pot-pourri arrangement of themes from Puccini’s ‘Madama Butterfly’ paid elegant homage to Lucca’s most famous composer.
My favourite, however, was the Royal March from Stravinsky’s Soldier’s Tale played by Ciardelli and Quiroga (the duet otherwise known as the Girls in The Magnesium Dress).
If ever there is such a thing as an eclectic double-bass player then it is Ms Ciardelli; she is a superb performer, extracting every type of timbre and nuance from a very exacting instrument, a brilliant and clever arranger and a highly talented composer. Most of all Valentina is doing for the double bass the kind of job that James Galway did for the flute, nurturing people’s increasing appreciation for the double bass. Having such astounding team members like Teani and Quiroga does help…
(PS I have to add that the left hand of the management at this particular festival item didn’t know what the right hand was doing. Evidently, a pass was required for entry to the concert, although this was not clearly specified. A rather officious young man at the entrance let us in on the basis that I had written an article on the festival in ‘Grapevine’, the Lucca area English magazine. However, we found out when we’d returned home that there were two persons, arriving a little later than us, who were excluded from enjoying the concert because they didn’t have a pass. One was the editor of ‘Grapevine’; the other was her daughter, a professional harpist of some distinction. I thought this was quite unacceptable.)