- Giovanni Bottesini (b. 1821 - d. 1889)
- Composition Year
- Alina Ibragimova [violin], Niek de Groot [double bass], Peter Laul [piano]
|Composer||Giovanni Bottesini (b. 1821 - d. 1889)|
|Work Title||Gran Duo Concertante|
|Artist(s)||Alina Ibragimova [violin], Niek de Groot [double bass], Peter Laul [piano]|
|Performance Date||Wednesday 1st July 2015|
|Performance Venue||Bantry House Library, Bantry, Co. Cork, Ireland,|
|Event||Main Evening Concert|
|Recording Engineer||Richard McCullough, RTÉ lyric fm|
|Programme Note Writer||© Francis Humphrys|
Bottesini is not a name on every music-lover’s lips, but in his day he was renowned as the Paganini of the Double Bass. Legend has it that he took up the bass as it was the only scholarship available at the Milan Conservatory, so he took a crash course in bass playing and, despite giving a disastrous audition, the fifteen-year-old talked his way into the scholarship. In a few years critics were writing ecstatic reviews about his playing – Under his bow, the double bass groaned, sighed, cooed, sang, quivered, roared – an orchestra in itself with irresistible force and the sweetest expression....supported by his great wooden sound-box, Bottesini leant over his instrument like a conquering hero. He was also a noted conductor and was chosen by Verdi to conduct the premiere of Aida in Cairo.
The Gran Duo Concertante exists in many versions. Bottesini originally composed it as a sort of duo concerto, for two basses and orchestra. The violin virtuoso Ernesto Camillo Sivori, Paganini’s only student, adapted it for violin and bass, making it a showcase for both instruments. The piano reduction of the orchestral accompaniment was standard practice. There is also a version of the work with clarinet instead of violin.
Although there are obvious concerto references, including a dazzling duo cadenza two thirds way through, in general shape the Gran Duo is more like an opera scena. It begins in the minor with a sternly declamatory introduction and rhapsodic solos, which set up a sweet cantabile section in the major, with the lyrical melody shared between the soloists and embellished like a bel canto aria. The accompaniment returns with the march-like introduction, which ultimately brings the music back to a triumphant conclusion. The virtuosity demanded along the way is breath-taking.