Friday 19 November 2021

Double bass player Leon Bosch celebrates Bottesini's bi-centenary in style

Giovanni Bottesini with his Testore double bass in 1865
Giovanni Bottesini with his Testore double bass in 1865

Giovanni Bottesini's bicentenary falls next month (22 December 2021), and thankfully the composer's music is having something of a little revival. He was evidently quite a character, combining the careers of double bass virtuoso, conductor and composer, and he was selected by Verdi to conduct the first performance of Aida in Cairo. His skill as a virtuoso on the double bass helped revolutionise the playing technique of his instrument and it is double bass players who often have a lot to be thankful for.

Double bass player Leon Bosch is currently celebrating his 60th birthday with a concert at the Wigmore Hall on 7 December 2021 which places Bottesini's music firmly in focus. Bosch and his ensemble, I Musicanti, will be performing Bottesini's Grand Quintet in C minor Op. 99 for two violins, viola, cello and double bass, his Elegy No. 1 in D for double bass and piano, and Tarantella, alongside music by Beethoven and Dvorak, and a new piece by Bosch's fellow South African, Grant McLachlan. [full details from the Wigmore Hall website]

Bottesini's Grand Quintet in C minor was written in 1858 whilst the composer was staying in Naples, and it is dedicated to Bottesini's friend, the opera composer Saverio Mercadante, whilst Bottesini's Elegy seems to transfer the bel canto style the composer knew from his operatic career to his own instrument. 

Bosch and I Musicanti have recorded the Grand Quintet along with Bottesini's String Quintets in E minor & A major (both premiere recordings) for SOMM records and the disc is being released on Bottesini's 200th birthday, 22 December 2021 [see Leon Bosch's website].  Whilst Bosch's latest solo disc for Meridian, with Sung-Suk Kang, includes not only the Elegy and Tarantella but other quasi-operatic works by Bottesini such as the Fantasie Sonnambula [see Meridian website

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