(Five Basque Songs Arranged for Four Double Basses)
Some time ago I spent two years playing bass in the Mexico City Philharmonic. One of my friends, and occasional stand partner, was an excellent bassist from Poland named Alex Mikolajzcyk. Eventually I moved back to the USA to pursue degrees and a career in composition, while Alex moved to Spain, where he became principal bassist in the Euskadiko Orkestra Sinfonikoa (Basque Symphony Orchestra) in San Sebastián, or Donostia, as it is called in Basque. We stayed more or less in touch through the years, and I stayed with his family a couple of times when I was traveling around Europe.
Many years later he was putting on a concert of music for double bass quartet with some of his colleagues there and asked me to write a piece for them, preferably based on Basque tunes. He sent me a book of traditional Basque songs, from which I found five I thought particularly attractive and arranged for the group. As the texts of the songs were given only in Basque, I have absolutely no idea what any of them is about, or even what the titles mean. I just liked the tunes, and attempted to provide musical settings appropriate to the nature of the music. I can only hope I didn’t do any violence to the meanings of any of the songs.