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Rodion Azarkhin

A great believer in the artistic potential of the solo double-bass, Azarkhin had an extraordinary concert repertoire including many of his own transcriptions—no music was safe from his pen! Seeking as colourful an artistic pallet as possible, he adapted his bow with weights taped at the tip and middle, and a thumb-lever mechanism that would change the tension to produce a ‘finger accent’ (although he insisted no adaptation was a substitute for total mastery of technique with a standard bow).

Trained at a Leningrad music school and then the conservatory, Azarkhin later studied at the Moscow Conservatory and worked with many Soviet ensembles including the Moscow Chamber Orchestra under Rudolf Barshai. In 1959 his first solo bass recital was so successful that it became an annual event until his retirement and was broadcast on Radio Moscow. Claiming never to repeat the same piece in these recitals, by the end of his career Azarkhin had a repertoire of over 500 works. His recordings were made with Melodiya (then government-owned) between 1959 and 1973. Some of these were released in 1975 as The Art of Rodion Azarkhin, which has been described as ‘the single most talked-about bass recording of all time’.




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