by Robert Rollin
This past Sunday’s Warren Philharmonic Orchestra concert took place in the sunlit Christ Episcopal Church, and featured a potpourri of ingratiating short pieces conducted by Susan Davenny Wyner. The highlight was a performance of Giovanni Bottesini’s Concerto No. 2 in B Minor for Double Bass and Orchestra by Boston area bassist, Susan Hagen. Hagen trained at Boston University under Edwin Barker, principal bass of the Boston Symphony. She has served for eight years as extra bass with Boston, is currently a member of the Boston Pops Orchestra, and a faculty member at the Boston Conservatory of Music.
Bottesini (1821-1889) entered the Milan Conservatory at fourteen as a scholarship student, graduating four years later after winning a three hundred franc prize for his bass playing. He was soon designated “the Paganini of the bass” for his virtuosity. Bottesini had a huge following and regularly added new original showpieces to his repertoire. He became principal bass at a Venetian theater where Verdi’s opera, I due Foscari was being performed. The two composers became lifelong friends. Though highly respected as a double bassist, Bottesini also acquired a European following as an opera conductor, and composed thirteen operas. He is best known for his virtuosic and idiomatic bass writing in the concertos that continue to be played today. [Read more…]