Say double bass and people will probably think of jazz music. In spite of pioneering composers like Bottesini and active present-day players like Dutch Hans Roelofsen and Rudolf Senn, the double-bass does not have a serious image in classical music. Maybe Saint-Saëns’ Carnaval des animaux has something to do with this.
Back in the nineteenth century there were several virtuoso performers on this instrument who also wrote music for it. Bottesini being the best-known of them. His virtuoso pieces seem to stretch the instrument with its intrinsic slowness to its limits.
The first CD with recordings from 1988 gives some examples of these typical showpieces. On the second CD Hans Roelofsen gives newly recorded performances of two sonatas by Chopin and Rachmaninov which were originally written for cello with piano accompaniment. These transcriptions show how versatile the double bass really is. It works surprisingly well: this is the truly romantic double bass.