American bassist Lev Weksler has the internet divided over the authenticity of his performance of this showpiece.
Rimsky-Korsakov ‘s Flight of the Bumblebee – it’s a piece that requires a frantic scattershot of notes, impossibly fine dexterity and virtuosic talent. It’s also a piece that’s more commonly associated with the smallest member of the string family, the violin and not its bigger, deeper brother, the double bass. Clearly no one told this to American bassist Lev Weksler who released a multi-tracked video recording of himself performing the virtuosic showpiece on video sharing site YouTube, October of last year. However, some viewers have been left wondering if the recording is actually a hoax.
The video of Weksler performing the piece gone viral on social media, but YouTube commenters and a forum exchange on popular website Reddit have questioned the authenticity of the video. One bass player suggests Weksler programmed MIDI instruments to play the piece and that he’s merely miming along with the performance. Another says that the tone, finger placement and harmonics are all faked. Regardless of whether the performance is real, it still sounds great.
To get to the bottom of this divisive video, Limelight spoke to Ben Hanlon, bassist with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, to get an expert opinion from Down Under. Although it is impossible to say with total certainty without seeing the score of Weksler’s arrangement, Hanlon believes the recording “could be real,” and that an unconventional tuning is likely to be the cause of the unusually high, bright tone heard on the recording. “Without having tried to sit down and figure out the tuning and the notes I really can’t say definitively, but he has quite a catalog of music online, so if it’s a hoax, it’s an elaborate one,” Hanlon says. State of the art editing software is now widely accessible, and so some post-recording tweaking might also be at work, Hanlon added.
British violinist Ben Lee currently holds the world record for that fastest performance of the work, playing an average of 15 notes per second to perform the entire work in a mere 54.24 seconds. While it might not be the most musically pleasing account, if it’s good enough for Guinness, it’s good enough for us!
But what do you think?