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Missy Mazzoli

Publisher: G. Schirmer

Dark with Excessive Bright (for string bass and string orchestra) (2018)
Commissioned by the Australian Chamber Orchestra and Aurora
Work Notes
UK premiere reserved.
G Schirmer Inc
Soloists and Orchestra
Sub Category
Soloists and String Orchestra
Year Composed
13 Minutes
Solo Instrument(s)
Double bass
Programme Note
Missy Mazzoli Dark with Excessive Bright (for string bass and string orchestra) (2018)
Related works:
   Dark with Excessive Bright (for string bass and string orchestra)
   Dark with Excessive Bright (for string bass and string ensemble)

Composer note:
While composing Dark with Excessive Bright for contrabass soloist Maxime Bibeau and the Australian Chamber Orchestra, I continuously listened to music from the Baroque and Renaissance eras. I was inspired in no small part by Maxime's double bass, a massive instrument built in 1580 that was stored in an Italian monastery for hundreds of years and even patched with pages from the Good Friday liturgy. I imagined this instrument as a historian, an object that collected the music of the passing centuries in the twists of its neck and the fibers of its wood, finally emerging into the light at age 400 and singing it all into the world. While loosely based in Baroque idioms, this piece slips between string techniques from several centuries, all while twisting a pattern of repeated chords beyond recognition. "Dark with excessive bright," a phrase from Milton's Paradise Lost, is a surreal and evocative description of God, written by a blind man. I love the impossibility of this phrase, and felt it was a strangely accurate way to describe the dark but heartrending sound of the double bass itself. Dark with Excessive Bright was commissioned by the Australian Chamber Orchestra and the Aurora Orchestra in London.

— Missy Mazzoli


Piano reduction

The contrabass concerto proved more dynamic, offering Bibeau a bravura line with arresting recitatives over a varied backdrop, its outline and direction clear. Even if Mazzoli's harmonic language remained unadventurous, the tailor-made work gave an ideal platform for Bibeau's unexpected flamboyance.
Clive O'Connell, Sydney Moring Herald,05/02/2018
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