GIOVANNI BOTTESINI - Capriccio di Bravura

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GIOVANNI BOTTESINI - Capriccio di Bravura - Rick Stotijn (Double Bass) - Amsterdam Sinfonietta - Hybrid SACD - 723385326120 - Released: May 2012 - Channel Classics CCSSA32612

1} Grand Duo Concertant in A major (violin, double bass and string orchestra)
2} Grande Allegro di Concerto 'Alla Mendelssohn' (double bass and string quintet)
3} Une Bouche Aimée (double bass, mezzo soprano and piano)
4} Tutto Che Il Mondo Serra (double bass, mezzo soprano and piano)
5} Capriccio di Bravura in A major (double bass and string quintet)
6} Duo Concertant on Themes from Bellini's 'I Puritani' (cello, double bass and string orchestra)

It's difficult to imagine that a musical instrument as heavy and unwieldy as a double bass could sound so light and malleable as it does in this wonderful recording by double bassist Rick Stotijn. Of course it doesn't hurt that the music performed is by the double bass composer extraordinaire Giovanni Bottesini (1821-1889). What Paganini did for the violin, or what Rossini did for Italian opera, Bottesini did for the humble double bass. A master double bassist himself, most of his compositional output was devoted to this instrument. His music is very much in the style of a Rossini opera, with a flowing cantabile style in which the instrument plays the lead role of tenor (or maybe baritone in this case) as in an opera.

There is something for everyone on this CD from concertante duos with violinist Liza Ferschtman and cellist Monika Leskovar, to chamber ensemble work, to intimate vocal pieces with mezzo Christianne Stotijn who is herself already well into a stellar international position, and pianist Hans Eijsackers. The orchestral support by the Amsterdam Sinfonietta under the direction of Candida Thompson is appropriately light, and the pristine recording by Channel Classics is open and very well spotted.

Rick Stotijn performs on a Rafaele and Antonio Gagliano double bass that projects a tone so sweet that sometimes, in the higher register, it's easy to mistake it for a violin. He plays the double bass with an ease that belies its size and technical demands, so much so that the instrument itself ceases to be the medium and becomes the music.

Jean-Yves Duperron - June 2012