Suite Italienne for Double Bass and Piano is a transcription that will be the first full-scale composition by Igor Stravinsky included in double bass solo repertoire. The special kinship of the double bass and its prominent role in the Pulcinella Suite (the original source of the Suite Italienne arrangements) further makes it a work that is both readily recognizable and of particular interest among bassists. The historical and compositional methods regarding this piece have been thoroughly researched with the intention of creating a new Suite Italienne that reflects as much of Stravinsky's music and style as possible.
The existing versions of Suite Italienne, originally composed for violin and also cello, were adapted according to what was best suited to the double bass. Some of the movements are a hybrid of the violin and 'cello versions, while others are drawn solely from one arrangement. Whenever there are passages that cannot be played on the bass, I was able to identify and apply eleven different arrangement techniques used by Stravinsky in his earlier arrangements that also produced satisfactory musical and technical solutions.
The entire suite includes eight complete movements with the same number of measures and same melodic material as the originals. Because the suite possesses all movements from both the violin and cello versions, as well as a unique selection of its own, this is a much larger work than its predecessors. The movement titles in concert order are: Intoduzione; Serenata; Aria; Vivo; Tarantella; Gavotta con due Variazione; Scherzino; Minuetto e Finale.
The Vivo movement is a unique contribution to the various editions of Suite Italienne and is derived directly from the Pulcinella Orchestral Suite. It is a piano reduction of the score with the bass carrying the melody exactly as it does in the orchestral suite. In choosing to include this movement, I am continuing a practice Stravinsky established with his instrumental collaborators (Samuel Dushkin and Gregor Piatigorsky) of allowing the performers to select material from the ballet that is incorporated into the suite. This movement is widely recognized by classical bassists as one of the most significant double bass solos in all orchestral repertoire.
Suite Italienne for Double Bass and Piano has music selections that appeal to bassists of varying performance levels. Solo, chamber, and orchestral bassists alike will appreciate different aspects of this music. This suite also possesses an abundance of flare and technical virtuosity that will excite audience listeners.