Giovanni Bottesini

Giovanni Bottesini (1821-1889)

Nationality: Italian
Born: December 22, 1821, Crema Died: July 7, 1889, Parma (age 67)

Gran quintetto for String Quintet in c minor, Op. 99

(for 2 violins, viola, cello and bass)
I. Allegro moderato
II. Scherzo. Allegro ma non troppo
III. Adagio
IV. Finale. Allegro con brio
Duration: 23 minutes (approximately)
Composed: 1858 (age 36-37)
Dedication: Un mio ricordo Al Cavaliere S. Mercadante
1 recording, 1 videos
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Ján Krigovský, Mucha Quartet
From Edition Silvertrust

Giovanni Bottesini Giovanni Bottesini (1821-1889) was born in the northern Italian town of Crema. His first music lessons were from his father a professional clarinetist and composer. He studied violin locally and applied for a scholarship to the Milan Conservatory and might have pursued a career as a violinist but for the fact that there were no openings for violinists, only one for a bass player. He hastily took up the bass and won the scholarship. His talent was such that after graduating he was able to embark on a solo career and soon became known as the Paganini of the Double Bass. He traveled widely not only throughout Europe but he also visited the United States and briefly served as principal double-bass in the Italian opera at Havana. Apart from his triumphs as a performer, Bottesini was a conductor of European reputation, and conducted at several important opera houses including the Théâtre des Italiens in Paris as well as the Lyceum Theatre in London. He was chosen by Verdi to conduct the first performance of Aida. Besides several operas and many works for double bass, he composed several string quartets as well as a number of quintets for string quartet and double bass. His works for bass remain standard repertoire for accomplished double bassists to this day.

Bottesini wrote his Gran Quintetto in c minor in 1858 while sojourning in Naples. It was dedicated to his friend Saverio Mercadante, who had written a string quintet for Paganini. The opening movement, Allegro moderato, begins in dramatic fashion, with the first violin singing a fetching operatic melody. This subject goes through extensive and interesting development. A heavily accented, pounding Scherzo serves as the second movement. A gentler trio section provides a nice contrast. The Adagio which follows is a combination of relaxed, delicate, long lined melodies, which in the middle are suddenly interrupted by a storm-like, highly dramatic, powerful episode. The finale, Allegro con brio, begins with a series of downward plunging passages creating a sense of urgency before the appearance of a march-like, triumphant theme.

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