Joel Quarrington

Bottesini: Music for Double Bass and Piano, Vol. 2

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After a hiatus of more than 10 years since the release of Vol. 1 of bassist Joel Quarrington's performance of Bottesini's music for double bass and piano, the anticipation for the release of Vol. 2 was high for fans of the double bass. As in Vol. 1, this installment offers listeners some of Bottesini's more frequently performed works -- such as the Third Gran Duetto, the Second Concerto (heard here in its version for bass and piano), and the Duetto for Clarinet and Bass -- as well as some less familiar compositions. Quarrington's performance throughout combines the best aspects of rhythmically solid, well-in-tune orchestral playing with beautiful, singing solo playing in the highest registers of the instrument. Despite the best efforts of pianist Andrew Burashko, the piano's sound throughout this album is somewhat clumsy and intrusive, particularly in the works most listeners might be accustomed to hearing with orchestra. As such, the collaborations that minimize the piano's role are the most successful. The colors and textures created by Quarrington and clarinetist James Campbell are entirely satisfying, and the usually clear and energetic duo performance featuring bassist Harold Hall Robinson proves that under the right circumstances, two basses playing together needn't be muddy. The most gratifying and surprising combination of sounds, though, comes from the addition of soprano Monica Whicher, whose vocal quality brilliantly complements the dark, rich sounds of the double bass.

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