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The Briish double bassist recalls his irst encounters with Iannis Xenakis’s solo work Theraps – including some frank exchanges with the composer himself

The composer Iannis Xenakis wrote one work for solo bass: the twelve-minute heraps, in 1976. I discovered it just a couple of years later, when I was looking to expand my repertoire and thought it was perfect: it’s an intense work, one that demands you throw yourself into it wholeheartedly, as well as containing moments of great beauty and fragility. At the time I was working on a programme of solo works – among them Jacob Druckman’s Valentine, which I was planning to perform in a red leotard, and Hubert Stuppner’s Rondo for a clown, which meant I had to run ofstage and come back in a clown outit. When the score for heraps arrived I thought it would be an excellent foil for the other two: it was music of great strength; the opening instruction is en écrasant (‘crushing the string’) and then the third bar goes from ff to pp, so it sets itself up as a piece of extremes right from the start.

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About The Strad

Double bassist Leon Bosch discusses his career, and we investigate the bass makers of Manchester. There’s an interview with early music pioneer Eduard Melkus and cellist Johannes Moser gives a Mendelssohn Masterclass. Plus Leonidas Kavakos’s teaching tips