Leon Bosch has an honoured place among the select group of virtuoso double bass players worldwide. Concerto engagements in many parts of the world with the likes of conductors Pinchas Zukerman, Nicolas Kraemer, Nicolae Moldoveanu and Guido Johannes Rumstadt have been matched by collaborations with a long line of leading chamber music groups - among them the Lindsay, Belcea and Brodsky string quartets, the Academy of St Martin in the Fields Chamber Ensemble, the Moscow Virtuosi and the Zukerman Chamber Players. Partnerships with solo performers have embraced such pianists as Peter Donohoe, Vladimir Ovchinikov, Mikhail Rudy and Maria Joćo Pires.
Leon Bosch has a growing discography of concerto and recital recordings. This will shortly include two albums devoted to the music of the great Giovanni Bottesini and two featuring music by British composers. Then will follow everything from a disc of Russian music and another of compositions by Domenico Dragonetti, to the complete works for solo double bass by Dittersdorf, Menotti's concerto and recordings of a string of neglected concertos for the instrument.
Devoted to the double bass
'I have no doubt that the double bass and I were made for each other - we're completely inseparable and the music we make together brings me unbridled joy! It has always been my mission in life to defend the cause of the underdog and my passion for the double bass, the 'Cinderella' of instruments, will never die.
Every note I play on the instrument embraces my life experiences, both in Europe and in my South African homeland. I've known love and comradeship, but also witnessed the epitome of hatred. I've felt both shining optimism and deep despair. I've benefited from the pleasures of civilised society, but also seen the destructive impact of poverty and ignorance. I've been privileged to stand side by side with people who've lost their lives in the defence of their principles.
It's difficult to explain exactly how life's experiences distil into your music-making, but they most certainly do. First you have to face the fact that playing well is 98% perspiration - all the hard work that's done in private. But then, when the day of the performance arrives, you're looking to access that other, magical 2%, which is all about freedom and spontaneity - improvisation, almost. And what you have to draw on is the story of your life - in feelings, emotions and colours.
What you hope is that thereby you link to the mind of the composer. No phrase, or even a single note, should be allowed to pass by perfunctorily it's the performer's solemn duty to seek to understand what the composer intended and then to express that unique personal understanding as if one's very life depended upon it.
What is the point otherwise?
When I play the bass at least, I am a totally free human spirit.'
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