WACKY WEDNESDAY | Schubert’s "Death and the Maiden" for Four Basses

The Bassinova Quartet recorded this classic piece remotely from four different continents 

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(The Bassinova Quartet/Photo credit: Julianna Emanski)

The Bassinova Quartet comprises bassists Daniel Nix, Aaron Olguin, Mariechen Meyer, and Gustavo Mazon Finessi, from the USA, Norway, South Africa, and Brazil, respectively.

They began playing together as part of Nix’s bass quartet recital project in 2015 and enjoyed it so much that they started to spend more time as an ensemble.

"When we released an audio recording of the Shostakovich String Quartet No. 8 in C minor, the international response in the bass community was massive and it inspired us to keep going," Nix told The Violin Channel. 

"We were invited to perform at several bass festivals and conventions while we were physically together in the North Texas area. We also performed on two tours of the USA and Canada in the summers of 2016 and 2017. After the summer of 2017, the group separated and went on hiatus until the Covid-19 pandemic brought up the idea to create a video remotely."

For this particular arrangement of Schubert's "Death and the Maiden," the ensemble worked straight from the original parts.

"If anything needed to be adapted for the bass, we would either work out our own solutions for each part or discuss them as a group," Nix said.

"The most challenging aspect of playing this music on the bass is clarity. We work very hard to clearly articulate notes since our instrument is extremely resonant in the lower range. Notes will continue to ring long after being played and will create a messy, inarticulate sound if not properly managed.

"Chords and double-stops might also be challenging and require revoicing," he explains. "The difficulties in recording center around matching sound with the different equipment and recording environment each of us has and also getting used to playing with an earpiece."

If Schubert were still alive today, the quartet wishes that he "would see the potential of the bass and be inspired to compose for it in either a solo or chamber setting."

"We perform string quartet repertoire not only because it is amazing music, but also to show what is possible and encourage living composers to write for this type of ensemble," Nix continues.

The group is undergoing plans to complete the string quartet’s other movements.