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Giovanni Bottesini (1821–1889): Duetto for Clarinet, Double Bass & Orchestra (Piano)

A prolific composer, Bottesini has written several operas as well as a large corpus of works for the double bass. These concerti and short pieces demand both agility and brilliant technical skills, on the one hand, alongside quasi-vocal lyric bel canto style passages, on the other hand; in fact, both hands are rather busy. Duetto for Clarinet, Double bass and Orchestra features both aspects: flashy scales and arpeggios, involving the double bass’ natural harmonic series, as well as aria passages. Bottesini’s father was a clarinetist with the Theater Orchestra in Crema, which might explain the choice of the clarinet. Bottesini has other duo pieces, in which the orchestra accompanies bass and violin, bass and cello, and two basses.

As a conductor himself and a friend of Giuseppe Verdi’s, Bottesini conducted the premiere of Aida in Cairo, celebrating the 1871 opening of the Suez canal. Bottesini’s own double bass was an Italian three-stringed instrument, popular at the time. When Verdi wrote a famous double bass solo in his opera Otello, specifying “The basses with four strings”.[1]When Bottesini, a tall and powerfully built man, bends down low over the colossus, his left hand ceaselessly traversing the immense distance from neck to bridge and his bow-hand attacking the strings as if it were wielding a sabre, one is forced to admire the athlete in him almost as much as the musician”, wrote the renowned musical critic Eduard Hanslick.[2]

[1] Lawrence Hurst, “A Brief History of the Double Bass,” URL: [2] Cited in Klaus Trumpf, Werke für Kontrabaß (Works for Double Bass). Disc (Berlin: Edel Records 0093962BC), jacket notes by Antje Hinz, translated from German by J & M Beridge, 1999.

Giovanni Bottesini (1821–1889): Duetto for Clarinet, Double Bass & Orchestra

Lisa Raschiatore – Clarinet, Ron Merhavi – Double Bass, Thomas Bandy – Piano

Ron Merhavi's Third Dissertation Recital: Britton Recital Hall, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor 27.10.2004


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