From this foundation, Mazzoli and Max worked together throughout the creative process, collaborating through Skype and in person during a special trip to Brooklyn.
“Missy has been very open about bouncing ideas back and forth, and exploring the full range of the instrument”, says Max. “The solo part features these beautiful, soaring melodic lines, alongside some grittier, crunchier moments from both the bass and the orchestra.”
Missy wanted to keep the character of Max’s bass alive, so immersed herself in music from the Baroque and Renaissance periods to capture it's history and showcase its unique tone.
The cooperative process was a new approach for Mazzoli as well. “I’ve worked with Maxime on this piece more than I’ve ever worked with a soloist,” she explained. “A Contrabass Concerto is a tricky medium in that there are all sorts of potential issues with balance and range, but Maxime was very adventurous and willing to help me come up with innovative solutions”.
The outcome of their partnership is Dark with Excessive Bright – a piece two years in the making that carefully interweaves the unique story of Max’s instrument into a modern composition that’s considered in every detail, right down to the name.
“Dark with Excessive Bright, a phrase from Milton’s Paradise Lost […] is a surreal and evocative description of God, written by a blind man”, explains Mazzoli. “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 will have its world premiere in February's Tognetti Tchaikovsky Brahms concert, with Missy Mazzoli joining Max and the orchestra for final rehearsals and the subsequent national tour.