Massimo Giorgi / Vittorio Antonellini

Bottesini: Virtuoso Works for Double Bass & Strings

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Giovanni Bottesini, along with his 20th century counterpart Sergey Koussevitzky, is responsible for a sizeable majority of the standard repertoire for the double bass. Because of this dearth in repertoire, bass players are often forced to record these composers' oeuvres again and again. Bassist Massimo Giorgi presents us here with a set of Bottesini's virtuoso works, but fails to deliver anything new or remarkable that has not been demonstrated in the countless recordings that precede or will follow it.

The first thing the listener notices when starting this recording is the thin, anemic sound produced by the string orchestra. While it is often necessary for ensembles accompanying bassists to use more subdued dynamics than when playing with more powerful, projecting instruments, conductor Vittorio Antonellini's efforts come at the expense of a satisfying tone quality throughout the recording.

Giorgi's playing is very consistent throughout. Intonation is generally good and his technique is solid save for a few missed harmonics in the extreme upper range of the instrument. His phrasing is pleasing, especially in the slower Elegia and Introduzione e Gavotte. The recording fails to impress, however, in the realm of tone production. Giorgi's sound is often quite weak and muddy. In the lower registers of the instrument, individual notes become almost impossible to discern despite the meager competition of his accompaniment.

Giorgi is joined by clarinetist Vincenzo Mariozzi for the Gran Duo for clarinet, double bass, and strings, by far the strongest selection on the disc. Mariozzi's playing is quite energetic, with a pure, clean clarinet sound that seems to coax some of these favorable qualities from the bass. The same cannot be said, however, for the contributions of violinist Diego Conti, who assaults his instrument through the Gran Duo Concertante and Passioni Amorose. The violin's tone is acerbic, forced, and overly aggressive and is profoundly out of tune throughout both tracks.

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