Double Concertos for Bass Instruments by Bottesini and Vivaldi
Bram van Sambeek (bassoon), Johannes Rostamo (cello), Rick Stotijn, Olivier Thiery (double bass); Camerata RCO
BIS BIS-2509 (CD/SACD) 55:27 mins
The recording’s playful title, Doppio espressivo, brings to mind the dark intensity of a double espresso and, certainly, the group’s high-octane playing on dusky-hued double basses, cellos and bassoons is every bit as vitalising as a shot of caffeine.
The programme features sundry arrangements of works showcasing the talents of a quartet of soloists: bassists Rick Stotijn and Olivier Thiery, cellist Johannes Rostamo and bassoonist Bram van Sambeek. We hear two double concertos and an opera aria by Vivaldi, a melancholy Elegy by Heinrich Ernst and several pieces by ‘the Paganini of the bass’ – Giovanni Bottesini, who performed his works as a double act with fellow bass firebrand Giovanni Arpesani, delighting audiences in mid 19th-century Italy.
Supported by the crack Camerata RCO (the Concertgebouw’s chamber ensemble), the soloists offer robust and virtuosic playing in Vivaldi’s concertos and lend a blues-like swing to the Red Priest’s aria ‘Vedrò con mio diletto’, whose yearning melody Rick Stotijn sings out on his mellow bass. The ensemble’s sound is warm and dark as coffee in the other arrangements, adeptly made by Marijn van Prooijen, which include Bottesini’s felicitous Duetto in which bassoon and bass converse roguishly, as well as his version of a love serenade by Rossini and the romantic Passione amorosa whose bel canto melodies and dancing rhythms conjure up the fragrant soundworld of a 19th-century Italian café. In sum, the programme highlights the sonorous colours as well as the virtuosic and lyrical potential of the oft-neglected double bass and its husky-voiced friends.