Bottesini: Music for Violin, Double-Bass & String Orchestra

Bottesini: Music for Violin, Double-Bass & String Orchestra
Composer Giovanni Bottesini
Artist Nuova Orchestra Ferruccio Busoni
Francesco de Angelis violin
Francesco Siragusa double bass
Massimo Belli conductor
Format 1 CD
Cat. number 96655
EAN code 5028421966557
Release August 2024

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About this release

Bottesini is of course familiar to many musicians and music lovers, particularly double bass players, since the composer–performer enjoyed an undisputed position as ‘the Paganini of the double bass’ throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. This recording is a collection of five important pieces with a virtuosic and concerto-like compositional style, where the violin and double bass often take the lead roles in dense, surprising dialogues. It gives fans of 19th-century music an opportunity to experience the technical and creative richness of a composer who was extraordinarily artistically courageous for his time and gives due credit to musicians who for various reasons have historically been undervalued by the prevailing musical hierarchy.

Bottesini’s creative boldness is evident in the way he dared to put forward the double bass as a virtuosic solo instrument, on a par with its noble cousins, the violin, viola and cello. Many of his pieces feature solo parts that showcase dialogues between the extreme registers of the string instruments, from the ‘demonic’ violin with its high notes at the limits of perception, to the abyss of the bottom notes of the double bass. No one before Bottesini had discovered the untapped expressive potential of the latter instrument, since it had always been considered essentially a reinforcement for the cello part, one octave down. Instead, he wanted to make the double bass ‘soar’.

The Andante for strings introduces the double bass as a deep soul often in unison with the orchestral strings. The piece is imbued with an aching intimacy and refined with a rocking, undulating rhythmic motion. His Fantasia on Bellini’s ‘La Sonnambula’ introduces the always cantabile double bass as a voice from the outset, and it is easy to imagine how astounded the audience must have been to hear the melodious sound of this ‘back-row’ instrument poignantly reimagining Bellini’s lyric opera. In the Gran duo concertante for violin, double bass & orchestra Bottesini brings together lyrical sensitivity and expressive power. Here, the violin conveys the greatest possible tensions, frequently leading then giving way to a double bass that performs with cello-like poetry. The String Quintet in F, reimagined as an orchestral piece by Massimo Belli with the backbone of a great symphony immersed in a romantic setting full of energy and drama. The Piccola preghiera (as Bottesini intended) reveals a sensibility quite similar to the Andante that begins this album. The style here is even more sober, with strings layering over each other in an all-encompassing world of sound, rich in harmonic progressions and peaceful resolutions.

Other information:
- Recorded February 2022, Trieste, Italy
- Bilingual booklet in English and Italian contains liner notes by Marco Maria Tosolini and profiles of the ensemble and conductor

- Giovanni Bottesini (1821–1889) is one of the most influential figures in the history of the double bass and Italian opera. Born in Crema, Italy, Bottesini demonstrated prodigious talent from a young age, mastering the double bass by his teens. His virtuosic abilities on the instrument propelled him to international fame, earning him the title "Paganini of the Double Bass."
- Bottesini's contributions to the double bass repertoire are significant, composing numerous solo pieces, concertos, and orchestral works that pushed the technical and expressive boundaries of the instrument. His compositions showcase a deep understanding of the double bass's capabilities, blending melodic lyricism with dazzling technical displays. However, Bottesini's influence extended beyond the realm of the double bass. He was also a prolific conductor and composer of operatic music, writing several operas that enjoyed success in theaters across Europe.
- This new recording presents concertante works for violin, double bass and strings, as well as a string orchestra version of the String Quintet in F major, music of great melodic charm and vibrant virtuosity.
- Played by Francesco de Angelis (violin), Francesco Siragusa (double bass) and the Nuova Orchestra Ferruccio Busoni, conducted by Massimo Belli, who recorded already several successful albums for Brilliant Classics, with works by Viotti, Cherubini, Tartini, Wolf Ferrari, Ghedini and others.

Track list

Disk 1

  1. Giovanni Bottesini: Andante sostenuto in B Minor (to his Friend Giulio Ricordi)
  2. Giovanni Bottesini: Fantasia on ‘la sonnambula’
  3. Giovanni Bottesini: Gran duo concertante
  4. Giovanni Bottesini: String Quintet in F Major (Revision of Massimo Belli): I. Moderato
  5. Giovanni Bottesini: String Quintet in F Major (Revision of Massimo Belli): II. Scherzo. Piuttosto vivace
  6. Giovanni Bottesini: String Quintet in F Major (Revision of Massimo Belli): III. Adagio
  7. Giovanni Bottesini: String Quintet in F Major (Revision of Massimo Belli): IV. Finale. Allegro non tanto
  8. Giovanni Bottesini: Piccola Preghiera (According to the Intentions of G. Bottesini)