Virtuoso Double Bass
Works of Giovanni Bottesini (1821 - 1889)
Leon Bosch - Double Bass, Sung-Suk Kang - Piano
Meridian Records has just
released (Feb07) this important recording of Giovanni
Bottesini's principal works for double bass and piano - performed
by the accomplished duo Leon Bosch and Sung-Suk Kang.
The CD starts with the Elegy followed by the Tarantella,
Romanza Patetica (Mélodie), Gavotta, Reverie, Meditazione
(Aria di Bach), Fantasie Sonnambula, Romanza Drammatica
(Elégie), Adagio par Ernst - finishing off with the Capriccio
di Bravura. The total playing time is 64' 55".
Reproduced by kind permission
of Meridian Records.
It is little surprise that the works of Bottesini are rarely
heard on the concert stage. As bass players - we all know
too well that even though the music is colourful, dramatic
and intense - it's just so darned-right difficult to play.
Having written it - Bottesini would perform it - and because
his performances were so virtuosic he became known as the
'Paganini of the double bass'. Indeed Bottesini had the
ability to absolutely astounded concertgoers all over the
Following on in the footsteps of Bottesini is South Africa
born - Leon Bosch. Leon is a virtuoso double bass player
who has rapidly established an international reputation as
one of the foremost advocates of the double bass and as a
passionate interpreter of the works of Bottesini. This recording
- which sees Leon reunited with the pianist Sung-Suk Kang
for the first time since student days - demonstrates Bottesini's
music at its very best.
Well yes - can you believe
that Leon's London Concerto debut was at the age of 23 (1984)
- playing Bottesini's Gran Duo Concertante at the Royal Festival
Hall and with the Philharmonia Orcherstra. Since then Leon
has performed concertos all over the world with conductors
such as Pinchas Zukerman, Nicolas Kramer, Nicolae Moldoveanu
and Guido Johannes Rumstadt. The list of leading Chamber
ensembles and groups is no-less short and includes collaborations
with the Lindsay, Medici, Emperor, Belcea and Brodsky string
quartets, the Academy of St Martin in the Fields, The Moscow
Virtuosi and the Zukerman Chamber Players. Partnerships
with solo performers have embraced such pianists as Peter
Donohoe, Vladimir Ovchinikov, Mikhail Rudy and Maria Joao
Yes - it's difficult to know where to start. He is currently
the principal double bass player with the London Mozart
Players, the East of England Orchestra and is a member
and Director of the Board of The Academy of St Martin in
the Fields. In addition Leon was principal double bass
of the Manchester Camerata (1985-96), co-principal of the
Scottish Ballet (1985), and member of the Music Group of
Manchester, BBC Philharmonic, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic
Orchestra, Northern Sinfonia and of the Northern Chamber
In brief - includes work for Cathy Giles, Cool Music Ltd,
Hilary Skews, Isobel Griffiths and London Session Orchestra.
Sung-Suk Kang studied in England and Vienna. Her playing
won both 1st Prize and the Schumann Prize for best performance
at the International Competition in Macugnaga, Italy. Her
concert activities and numerous recordings as both soloist
and chamber musician have been well received for their
unique blend of elegance, sensitivity and determination.
Leon was born in Cape Town, South Africa in 1961. Although
the extensive notes that accompany the CD touch on Bottesini's
brilliance as a musician they are - in the main - an interesting
and most moving insight into Leon's early struggles against
the South Africa apartheid regime and his determined passion
to play the double bass.
Meridian really are the original experts in using natural-sound
techniques. You can't fail to be impressed by this stylish,
captivating recording. Bravo Meridian.
Tony Houska - Director of
The Contrabass Shoppe - comments. "Ever
since I heard Leon play the Gran Duo Concertante for violin
and double bass at Kingston Parish Church in March 2001 with
the London Mozart Players I have been a fan of his playing.
You know how it is when you go to a concert and the double
bass player walks onto the stage with his instrument - there
is that moment - it's an incredible momentary-silence in
the audience when all the punters strain their necks to get
a better view and look on in bewilderment and disbelief that
anybody can possibly play such a huge instrument - let alone
play any sort of a solo. Just before the sceptical smattering
of applause breaks out you can feel everybody thinking that
- by including this in the programme - someone has got to
be having a laugh. Anyway - I am so pleased to report that
Leon and violinist David Juritz simply blew the audience
away with their super-sized sense of musicianship and bravura
It was every thing you could have wished
for from a performance - there was technical brilliance,
there was fluency, there was lyricism and there was the
dramatic. Most concertgoers would have been more than happy
with that - yet on that evening there was much, much more
on offer - there was a wonderful connection between artists
and audience. It is something that doesn't happen too often
- but if you are lucky enough to experience such an occasion
- it is absolutely magic and you feel tingly all over.
That to me is what music is all about and I can tell you
that Leon and David held the audience absolutely spell
bound right until the very end."
Just as in the live performance with Bosch
and Juritz mentioned above - there is an understanding between
Bosh and Kang that creates a wonderful sense of balance,
completeness and clarity to each of the pieces. The playing
is brilliant, fluent, lyrical, technically secure and full
of great musicianship. This really is a recording par-excellence.
Congratulations to Bosh, Kang and Meridian.
Yes - you'll absolutely love
every single track of this CD but here are a few impressions
- 10 for starters - of the first track - the Elegy. By the
way - they all start will love.
i) Love the balance between bass and piano - it just seems
ii) Love the soulful, lyrical sounds that Bosh plays the
iii) Love Bosh's sense of phrasing and suspense - yes, just
iv) Love the speed of Bosh's vibrato - its just so nice.
v) Love the way Bosh plays the harmonics - they are all wonderfully
clear and flute-like.
vi) Love the moment when Bosh gives the feeling of moving
vii) Love the dramatic section - it's just so well err..
viii) Love the warmth of Bosh's sound - just as I do a nice
South African Pinotage.
ix) Love the intonation - it's nothing short of perfect.
x) Love the calm and sense of completeness of the closing
Yes - not a bad idea. Taken from the rear of the CD container: "It's
the performer's solemn duty to seek to understand what the
composer intended and then to express that unique personal
understanding as if one's life depended upon it."
Reproduced by kind permission
of Meridian Records.
Title: Virtuoso Double Bass
Record Co: Meridian
Release No: CDE 84544
Features: Works of Giovanni Bottesini (1821 - 1889)
Artists: Leon Bosch - Double Bass, Sung-Suk Kang - Piano
Playing time: 64' 55"