Pēteris Vasks (1946, Latvia) studied the double bass at the Lithuanian State Conservatory from 1964 to 1970 and then composition with Valentinus Utkins at the Latvian State Conservatory, where he graduated in 1978. Vasks’ musical language, as Vasks himself asserts, rests on a dichotomy between humanist ideals and historical circumstances, violence and despair. In his works, he often resorts to the Baltic countries’ folk heritage, as well as to medieval tradition, shaping his modally tinged expression in the footsteps of Latvian composers from the latter half of the 20th century. Vasks’ most prominent works include Cantabile (1979) for orchestra, Musica dolorosa for strings (1983), Lauda for orchestra (1986), Violin Concerto (1996), etc. He works as a professor of composition at Emīls Dārziņš School of Music in Riga.
The work Bass Trip was composed in 2003, as a commission from the ARD music competition in Munich, where it was also premièred, and the following year saw its publication by Schott. The work, which in terms of form manifests fantasia traits, opens with a meditative introduction “over” a drone part, in the spirit of baroque expressive improvisations, which is followed by segments with complex repetitive textures alternating with virtuosic passages. Following the first culmination plateau, the music flow briefly calms down, introducing into the section even more intensive dynamics of changes. It ends abruptly, with a reminiscence of the opening, this time, however, improvisando, leading to repose, and the work ends with a delicate pizzicato.