Within a few days, two new CDs will be released by one of the master contrabassists in music shops and on the web — Catalin
Rotaru. The first CD is devoted entirely to Giovanni Bottesini (1821-1889), known to everyone as the "Paganini of the double bass", and the second is a recording with the National Orchestra of
The reader will ask, Is it possible? A compact disc recorded and dedicated to the well-known virtuoso of Crema who changed the world
with his instrument? The answer is, Yes!
But first, we have to point out that the interpreter is the amazing Catalin Rotaru who spoiled us with incredibly virtuosic
interpretations of works from the violin and cello repertoire (considering the fact that the solo repertoire of the double bass is very limited). Thanks to the owner, Mr. Tokutaka, Rotaru had the
opportunity to bring to the world this magnificent instrument on which Bottesini performed and toured throughout his life. The instrument made in 1716 by Testore was discovered by Bottesini
practically unused in a closet backstage in a puppet theater.
In essence, after the death of Bottesini in 1889 the instrument disappeared from the public eye, let aside record an album or compact
disc. The story of Bottesini’s Testore bass is long and complex. The instrument had several owners, (surely similar with Gasparo di Salò played early by Domenico Dragonetti), prior to arriving in
Japan with the current owner of the world's most important double bass, Hiroyuki Tokutata. Tokuktata took advantage of Rotaru's ability to achieve one of the world's greatest musical projects —
to finally bring the Testore instrument’s voice back by recording some of Bottesini’s virtuoso compositions.
Beyond this, a magnificent documentary on Bottesini’s double bass was made, thanks to the ASU School of Music in the Herberger
Institute for Design and the Arts that you can view at this web address: https://youtu.be/Z9Renf0ndg8
Personally, I have already listened to the voice of the Bottesini’s Testore bass, and what excited me, was the rich harmonic sound of
the instrument, which was set up with four strings for the recording — an extremely brilliant and clear sound on the acute register and sweet in the mid-range frequency of the bass. Even the low
frequencies that Bottesini loved less, seemed to be crystal clear and extremely powerful.
I am sure, however, the digital manipulations have been reduced to avoid changing the actual true sound of the instrument on which
Rotaru had only a few days to test and then immediately record. I do not want to point out the songs that have been selected for the recording, but I assure you that extreme virtuosity is
ensured, especially in the executions of the three Elegies which Rotaru has brought to perfection. While being truthful to the text, Rotaru brought his personal vision of these timeless
compositions; he performed with ease as a true connoisseur of the instrument. His comfortable approach, coupled with brilliant technique and innate virtuosity, has led this CD to be extremely
different from others, and though it may seem logical, his sensitivity and human passion placed this recording beyond time and criticism.
Last but not least, the pianist (and also bass player) Wan Ting-Yu, who has had the task of accompanying Rotaru master in making this great
and unique project in the history of double bass. Wan Ting-Yu has proved to have a "magic" touch in the hard task of accompanying Bottesini's compositions that are always difficult and complex in
the face of pure accompaniment made of "rallentando" and "rubato" that only the big pianists can manage to perceive in advance. And Wan Ting-Yu in this historic CD deserves full responsibility
for being the accompanist pianist of the great Catalin Rotaru for extreme sweetness and infinite musical sensitivity. Good listening.
Catalin Rotaru, Professor of Music at Arizona
State University since 2005, is a graduate of the National University of Music from Bucharest, Romania, and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He has served as the principal and
associate principal bass in several orchestras, including the Romanian National Radio Orchestra, the Sibiu Philharmonic Orchestra, the Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra of Bucharest, the Orchestra
Sinfonica Europea, and others. In 1997 he received Second Prize in the International Society of Bassists Solo Division Competition, as well as the “Jury’s Special Award” for the best performance
of the required piece. Later that year, he won the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts “Debut Recital Award” and, in 2013 was honored with “Recognition for Solo Performance” by the
International Society of Bassists. He released his debut solo CD album, Bass*ic Cello Notes, through Summit Records in 2007, and his second CD, Juliana D’Agostini + Catalin Rotaru, in 2010, which
was recorded in São Paulo, Brazil. Mr. Rotaru performs throughout the world as a recitalist and as guest soloist with prestigious symphony orchestras, and is in demand as a clinician at important
schools and music festivals. He endorses Pirastro Strings and performs on a modern double bass made in Italy by Luciano Golia, with a bow made by Marco Pasquino.
Between 2007 and 2017 Mr. Rotaru has released 6 CDs:
Bass*ic Cello Notes - 2007
Juliana D’Agostini + Catalin Rotaru - 2010
Sonic Bridges - 2013
Catalin Rotaru plays double bass works by Frank Proto - 2014
Sonic Bridges Volume 2 - 2017
The Lord of the Basses, Bottesini’s Testore - 2017