Bottesini – Grand duo concertant / Mendelssohn – Concerto for violin, piano and strings


A little curiosity from one who is now one of the most celebrated conductors on the planet. This was Jaap van Zweden the violinist, trying his hand at a concert where the principal violinist also functions as the conductor. Maybe it started his interest in the matter. He certainly looks very serious about it on the cover!

The Bottesini work is not well known, except for bass players I suppose. It is a piece for a combination that is not very common: violin, double-bass and strings. In a trio, a viola is added to bridge the gap between the cello and the violin. How on earth did Bottesini succeed at putting the much lower registered double-bass and the violin together?

Interestingly, he didn’t. The composition was written for two double-bass soloists. The added complication of finding to soloists for that instrument capable of playing the virtuous parts led Paganini’s pupil Camillo Sivori to rewrite one of the parts for the violin. I suppose it doesn’t change my original question though: how can two instruments so far apart be soloists in one piece?

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