Timothy Cobb / Thomas Martin / Christopher Oldfather

Bottesini: Fantasia on themes of Rossini

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Giovanni Bottesini was the leading double bass virtuoso of the 19th century, and his solo compositions form the center of the instrument's repertoire. Less familiar perhaps to players and followers of double bass music are the works for two double basses and piano that Bottesini composed as a student at the Milan Conservatory. These early works exhibit much of the same attention to technique and extended effects that his later solo writing does. Bottesini's music is light and flamboyant, with a flavor that was derived from the operatic world of Rossini, Donizetti, and Bellini, with special instrumental adaptations of the bel canto style of singing. Indeed, the selections on this 2010 Naxos CD are all of a piece in their exuberance and showiness, and even though the slightly dark Gran Duetto No. 2 lacks a piano part, it still shares the flashy character of the Fantasia on Themes of Rossini, Passioni amorose, and the Concerto a due Contrabbassi. This disc is Vol. 5 in the Bottesini Collection, and the work of double bassist Thomas Martin in seeing this series through is impressive, for dedication to this body of work requires not only concentration on his demanding parts, but flexibility in working with a variety of other musicians. For this album, Martin plays with double bassist Timothy Cobb on the second double bass part and pianist Christopher Oldfather, and the trio plays with remarkable rapport for an ad hoc ensemble. While Bottesini's music may not be especially deep, and the combination of instruments is a bit quirky, classical fans and lovers of novelty will find much enjoyable music here.

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