Tuesday October 27, 2020
Silvio Dalla Torre
The Bassetto in History My Bassetto Bassetto Practice - Use / Literature - Playing Technique - Methods / Tutors - FAQs

Use / Literature

The repertoire of original compositions for bassetto is easy to summarise. Besides the compositions of the Italian Baroque from Mazzaferrata, Chierico, Grossi, Colombi and Filippini which prescribe the participation of a bassetto, there is the chamber music work "Hymne pour dixtuor à cordes" by Arthur Honegger and a few own compositions by Alfred Stelzner for a bass instrument tuned G-D-A-E. The only historical solo piece which is known to me is Honegger´s "Prélude pour la Sous-Basse". In 2004, the composer Bodo Reinke of Rendsburg added to this the work 10-10+10=10? for bassetto and piano, and completed his expansive compos-
ition "Aventures" (Concerto for Bassetto and Orchestra) in January 2005. It is to be hoped that many more works by different composers will follow, which will give the instrument the position it deserves as a chamber music and solo instrument.

However, the bassetto has access to a very extensive repertoire through tran-
scriptions. A part of the repertoire for violoncello can be performed in this way (a fourth lower than in the original) and acquires a special colouring from the greater fullness of sound of the instrument. Even the literature of the violin offers a large number of possibilities for playing the works of great masters.

In chamber music compositions that are scored with two cellos (e.g. the Schubert quintet), the second cello can be replaced by a bassetto. This makes the ensemble sound fuller, more orchestral.