Ying Lai Green

CHRISTOPHER SMITH King of Hearts, Norwich


King of Hearts, Norwich

The double bass often appears the poor relation in the orchestra's family of instruments, placed at the back and dutifully ploughing through the bottom notes. So all the more credit to Ying Lai Green, whose lunchtime recital brought it to the fore. Just watching her was an experience.

Dark, slight in build, she hardly seemed large enough for her job at first. But she soon banished any doubts as her left hand and elastic fingers dashed up and down to produce cascades of notes.

After the cameos of Kodaly's Epigrams, transcriptions of simple songs in the folk tradition, Schubert's Arpeggione Sonata came across as a far more demanding piece of music. Tuneful, often with more than a touch of melancholy, it had its more cheerful moments too. Though not originally written for the double bass, it seemed to provide every opportunity for making good use of its great range and impressive variety of tone. At a slower pace and with some delicate phrasing, the second movement carried the most emotional impact.

The Fantasia on themes from Bellini's opera The Sleepwalker was designed by Giovanni Bottesini, the champion double bass player of the 19th century, as a showcase for breathtaking virtuoso skills. Here was a great opportunity, and Green did not squander it. The delicacy of the flute-like upper tones was all the more touching in contrast with the rugged strength of the bass. The accompaniment of the Fantasia also offered the pianist, Lauretta Bloomer, her chance to shine. Forthright, confident, crisp in rhythms, she grasped it literally with both hands, but without overshadowing the soloist.

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