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Bottesini concertos

Discussion in 'Recordings [DB]' started by gael, Jun 13, 2002.

  1. I´m wondering if there is one good version
    of Bottesini´s concertos. Not convinced so far with the traditionnal versions of Streicher, Rollez or Martin.

    The only version I like is Petracchi in the Grand Duo.
    Did he record the concertos too ?
  2. Christopher


    Apr 28, 2000
    New York, NY
    You can wait for Edgar Meyer's. Should be out in a month.
  3. Looks like it's available from Amazon right now.

    Wow--Meyer is also on a classical CD called "Perpetual Motion" with Bela Fleck and Evelyn Glennie. The excerpts sound interesting!
  4. superjew


    May 29, 2002
    I just got the new meyer recording earlier this week. It contains two of his own concerti and two bottesini: 2nd concerto for bass (B minor) and the duo concertante for violin and bass.

    I don't mind Meyer's own music, though it's not terribly intersting for me. But the bottesini works are performed terribly, in my opinion. You know, there's more to music than perfect execution.

    If you want to listen to a bass player that knows how to play italian bel-canto music, check out Joel Quarrington. The range of colors he uses is so vast, the degree of attention and care he gives to every phrase, every note - there's just so much detail there.

    So what if edgar meyer has perfect intonation? You know - intonation can also be an expressive device - especially on a contrabass. instead we get here the intonation of an equally-tempered piano.

    In addition, the playing of the orchestra (the american chamber orchestra conducted by hugh wolf) is so unimaginative it sounds like gray plastic. They also do whatever they can to stay out of edgar meyer's way, when they should actually be there to support him and give him a bed from which to jump up. The tempi are too strict, there's no real sense of fluidity.

    The whole Sony production seems like it's made more for the consumption of the virtuoso-loving public than for people who love Italian music of the 19th century (like myself, for example).

    Maybe it's time to remind people like Edgar Meyer and Yo Yo Ma that the music they're playing isn't their creation, at least not entirely. It was written by composers that died long before these performers were born, and that put their hearts and souls into the music they wrote. I believe one of the responsibilities of a performer is to be faithful to the composer of the music.
  5. Christopher


    Apr 28, 2000
    New York, NY
    Boy, I guess you can't please some people!

    Meyer's not a traditionalist by any measure, but then the Botessini Concertos are as much simple virtuoso vehicles as they are "bel canto" pieces. Better that Meyer defile Botessini with his dastardly perfect intonation and atrocious lightspeed cadenzas than, say, Eccles. :)

    As for "being faithful" to the composer, there's a limit to how far this can be taken. Don't you think 19th century Italian audiences got a kick out of Bottessini's virtuosity?
  6. superjew


    May 29, 2002
    In my opinion, Bottesini's pieces for bass are among the finest in the repertoire, not because they're such good 'vehicles for virtuosi', but because of their beautiful melody, their fine taste and their quality of composition. You can also demonstrate virtuosity by playing Xenakis' Theraps or Brian Ferneyhough's Trittico, but that music is completely different, and will require a different approach from the performer.

    Compare for example, Bottesini's style with that of Dragonetti. While Bottesini was no Verdi or Donizetti in terms of 'genius', he speaks in that language, the language of Italian opera, which, while highly virtuosic, demands the performers to sing, always sing. This both florid and lyrical inclination seems to have always been there in Italian music, from Jacopo da Bolgnia (14th century) through Monteverdi (17th century), Verdi (19th century) to Respighi and Nino Rota and even Berio (20th century). This will become evident as you meet a person from Italy, or see an Italian movie, or listen to a conversation in Italian.

    Dragonetti, while Italian, had, putting his contribution to the world of contrabass aside, a rather limited ability as a composer. His harmonic and melodic language is, to put it bluntly, basic. He therefore had to use other means to display his virtuosity. For example, his frequent use of 'passages' of very fast notes arranged in sequences of very simply content (actually in a similar fashion to most of the Viennese bass concerti). Bottesini, on the other hand, displayed his virtuosity by making a relatively clumsy instrument sing like a coloratura soprano. His playing was described as having "purity of tone and intonation, perfect taste in phrasing". Edgar Meyer has the first part down. The second part of this description is what he is lacking, in my opinion, and this sense of taste is so important in this music.

    I think that when one approaches a piece of music, one should learn everything one can not only about the specific piece, but about its composer and his time and circumstances. I think Edgar Meyer did not do so, or would not do so, and while most people like will be astonished at his virtuosity, I would like to be among the people who "can't be pleased". I applaud his technique but remain unsatisfied with his interpretation.

    The heated arguments for and against virtuoso playing are nothing new by the way. To strengthen my position I enlist the support of Franceois Couperin "Le Grand" who wrote about this subject in his Art de Toucher le Clavecin in 1716: "I declare in all good faith that I am more pleased with that which moves me than with that which astonishes me."
  7. olivier


    Dec 17, 1999
    Paris, France
    hardtochew: you're right on!
    I remember reading the very thin liner notes for ED Meyer's rendition of the cello suites:

    a) Tough to play
    b) Important to Ed's training

    What a journey !

    I did not listen to Mr Meyer's Bottesini concertos, but I am not really surprised by your opinion. He has a rather dry, austere, approach which fits better to Bach.
  8. Well, if Edgar Meyer s recording of Bach opens new perspectives for bass playing technically speaking,
    it has little interest for who knows good baroque players. I do hope he s better in Bottesini, but
    Sharon already points that it is not the case.

    I like his music, inclusive his violin concerto recorded by Hillary Hahn. The Barber is better
    music, but Meyer s concerto is nice anyway.
    Fine that he recorded his bass concertos too.

    As for Joel Quarrington, he is the Bel Canto bassist.
    For me it s a pity he recorded so many pieces a fifth
    higher, I miss bass sounds. And his vibrato is as times too fast, or he can use an extremely expressive vibrato, like when starting the vibrato after the beginning of the note, but in my opinion
    there are places where he shouldn t do that !

    It would be fine to know his version of the two Bottesini concertos.
    I still don t know even one good version of the
    B minor concerto, and recordings of the F sharp
    almost don t exist !
    The F sharp is a masterwork.
  9. have to say, I kind of agree with gael on Meyer.

    amazing player in many ways, wish I had half his chops, but his Bach does very little for me musically - it gets the least play of the 6-7 versions of the suites I have on CD.
  10. FengZhou


    Feb 24, 2002
    China PR
    How about Ovidiu Badila? is his recording of Bottesini's concertos good?

    Good idea, I´ll have to buy his records.
    Anyone heard his Bottesini concertos ?
  12. Alex Scott

    Alex Scott

    May 8, 2002
    Austin, TX
    Yes, Badila's rendition is very nice, you should give it a listen.

    Tell me more about quarington, what do you like about his style?
  13. Alex Scott

    Alex Scott

    May 8, 2002
    Austin, TX
    Did quarrington record the concerto too? I can only find this vol 1 thing, sounds nice.
  14. Joe Taylor

    Joe Taylor

    Dec 20, 2001
    Tracy CA
    I got Meyers new CD on Saturday listened to it several times. It is nice to hear Meyers orignal music and hear him play some of Bottesini's best work on the same CD. I think the mix on the Bottesini tracks to be too much orchestra and not enough bass, still a very good CD. Just my opinion. It is not as Oh Wow as the Bach CD.

  15. Just to clarify, Joel tunes his bass IN FIFTHS, i.e., one octave lower than a cello (ADGC). This means that his highest string is only a tone higher than standard orchestral tuning (but the same pitch as the solo tuned "G" string, which would become an A). So Joel actually just plays everything in the appropriate "solo" tuning key, without having to tune his bass up a tone.

    Joel has recorded the Bottesini Grand Duo on the CBC label. Check out his website for details.
  16. He tunes the bass in fifths, all right, but in his
    CD "Bottesini vol.1" he also plays half of the pieces a fourth or a fifth higher !
    He does it brilliantly.

    You may like it, anyway I do prefer the original pitch. For example I definitely prefer the "Grande Allegro" like it´s written.
  17. Jazz Ad

    Jazz Ad Mi la ré sol Supporting Member

    Bernard Cazauran did an amazing version of it.
  18. Do you know where it is available ?
  19. Baron von Basso

    Baron von Basso

    Nov 3, 2002
    At the most recent ISB convention, I had the pleasure of finally meeting a bassist whom I'd been familiar with for a few years after picking up his Bottesini CD in a record store in Germany. I had emailed him and when I met him in person he acted as though we were life long friends. I asked to have a lesson with him, but had nothing to play. I threw together the Bottesini Elegy. His approach was to play more than speak, but then again with his approach to Bottesini that is the only way to do it. He played Bottesini the way I imagine Bottesini did-like a singer. The emotion and passion he put out was inspirational. After a generous 2 hour free lesson, I walked away a changed dude. His recital the next day had the audience basting in their own drool. He didn't play like a bat out of hell with a click track, but he played the MUSIC. His name is Stefano Sciascia and he did record the Bott Bm concerto, but I'm afraid that many would hate it. It is extremely bel canto and slow. His all Bottesini CD is old and he isn't very happy with it. Vol 2 is coming out soon and he will be playing at the ISB convention again this summer. His technique is in NO way lacking despite his often slow tempos. His "Carnival of Venice" and "Sonnabula" are some of my favorties, but he doesn't play fast just for the sake of impressing people.

    I find Edgar's slow movment especially difficult to listen to. The lack of tone hurts my ears. Ovidiu Badila is a classical Edgar Meyer. His recordings don't find their way in to my CD player very often because they are nothing but technique shows with rather thin tone. His Bottesini slow pieces are horrible. You can practically hear the metronome clicking away.

    For Bottesini concerto recordings, I like a newer CD by a bassist named B. Furtok. His CD has the bm and f#m concertos and the Passione Amorosa and they are all played very well.

    For the Grand Duo Concertante, I like the Petracci but if you can locate a very rare CD of Entcho Radoukanov playing it then BUY IT!!!!!!!!!!
  20. Another vote here for Furtok's Bottesini. Very musical interpretation, lovely tone, and hard to find any flaw in his technique - which feels transparent to the musical aspects of his playing.

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