The Strad Issue: November 2015
Description: Italian players bring Bottesini’s bass instincts into the open
Musicians: Davide Botto, Davide Ghio (double bass) Alessandro Dorella (clarinet) Elda Laro (piano) String Quartet of the Teatro Regio, Turin
Composer: Bottesini

Despite his stuffy reputation, Bottesini has enjoyed a new lease of life recently, thanks to recordings by distinguished double bassists such as Rick Stotjin and Leon Bosch. This CD, featuring Davide Botto and an impressive cast of players drawn largely from the Philharmonic Orchestra of Turin’s Teatro Regio, provides yet another compelling argument for the composer’s sprawling repertoire.

Much of this music was written for the very specific purpose of demonstrating the extraordinary possibilities of what was then – as for much of the 20th century – tragically ignored as a solo instrument. Consequently, there is always the danger with these pieces that they become mere excuses for empty technical display. Thankfully, Botto’s mature, restrained style sweeps away these doubts, even when he is joined by the equally capable Davide Ghio on the recorded premiere of the Capriccio, a remarkable duet that is essentially structured to exhibit the various qualities of the bass.

The consummate fluency with which the pair tackle virtuoso passages is lightly worn, with deft use of thumb position to manage the dizzying array of harmonics and double-stopped notes, and a gorgeous bel canto bowing style. Also worthy of praise, Alessandro Dorella’s sensitive contribution on the Duetto for bass and clarinet suggests an unlikely kinship between these mellow instruments.