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Divertimento/Salzburg Quartet

Discussion in 'Orchestral Technique [DB]' started by ejnachtrab, Jan 10, 2017.

  1. ejnachtrab


    Nov 18, 2011
    Ann Arbor, MI
    I recently came across this Blog post from John Feeney, the principle double bassist of the American Classical Orchestra.

    Back to Bassists: The Restoration of a Symphony « American Classical Orchestra

    And also this quote from the San Francisco Symphony website regarding performance practice of some Mozart works.

    If this piece was intended to be a string quartet, was it even for a standard string quartet as we know it, comprising two violins, viola, and cello? The score doesn’t actually mention a cello; the lowest line is simply labeled basso, which could refer to the fact that it functions as the bass line (which it does) or perhaps that it was to be played by a double bass. We know that the combination of two violins, viola, and double bass was a common ensemble in Mozart’s Austria, documented in pictures as well as in music and known, in fact, as a “divertimento quartet” or “Salzburg quartet.”

    I am familiar with some aspects of the history of the bass around this time, Viennese tuning etc... But would like to start a discussion regarding the Basso line and increased opportunity for the double bass in chamber music. Does anyone here have any experience playing in a Salzburg/Divertimento quartet?

  2. neilG


    Jun 15, 2003
    Ventura, CA
    The term "basso" would almost never specifically mean DB, so the clues that DB was used come from written descriptions and iconography, as you mentioned. I've heard Feeney perform some of the works with bass instead of cello, and frankly I'm not a fan of the sound.

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