Piazzolla: Cuatro estaciones porteñas (arr. van Prooijen). Rota: Divertimento concertanto. Falla: Siete canciones populares espanolas (arr. van Prooijen)

Basso Bailando

The Strad Issue: January 2014
Description: Virtuoso performances from a leading Dutch bassist
Musicians: Rick Stotijn (double bass) Malin Broman (violin) Lavinia Meijer (harp) Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra/Simon Crawford Phillips, Mats Rondin
Composer: Piazzolla, Rota, Falla

Rick Stotijn is a quite amazing musician, and this new release is all the more remarkable for being largely derived from live performances where he goes through the whole gamut of double bass tricks of the trade without a single smudged note.

Piazzolla’s smoochy The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires is played in a highly effective arrangement for double bass, violin and orchestra, often requiring Stotijn to go high on the fingerboard with unfailingly accurate intonation. Yet it is the extended first-movement cadenza that brings him a moment of pure, bare-faced exhibitionism.

Opening in the world of Richard Strauss, Nino Rota’s Divertimento concertanto is an engaging score largely exploring the bass’s lyric potential, and Stotijn’s gorgeous Raffaele & Antonio Gagliano sings with elegant beauty. Maybe a version of Falla’s Seven Spanish Songs for double bass and harp is one step too far away from the original score, but it makes an ideal piece to display how easily Stotijn seems to create the sound of a cello.

The disc’s one problem is the unusual, hollow-sounding acoustic of the Stockholm hall, and the brittle harp sound in the Falla. These would not dissuade me from recommending these extraordinary performances, but they undoubtedly detract. 

David Denton