Orchestra Hall spotlight reveals bass motives

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Roger Frisch and William Schrickel
Violinist Roger Frisch and bassist William Schrickel say playing Bottesini's showy Gran Duo Concertante is like walking a tightrope.
MPR Photo/ Karl Gehrke

As the assistant principal bass with the Minnesota Orchestra, William Schrickel is usually bowing away at the back of the stage. On Friday night he makes a rare appearance in front of the orchestra when he joins Associate Concertmaster Roger Frisch for a performance of a pyrotechnical work written by the most renowned double bassist of the 19th century, Giovanni Bottesini.

Bottesini's technique earned him the nickname "Paganini of the Double Bass." He was one of the first musicians to demonstrate that the bass could be a diverse and versatile instrument.

Bottesini's Gran Duo Concertante is one of the composer's most famous works and gives the bassist an opportunity to show off.

Minnesota Public Radio's Steve Staruch stopped by Orchestra Hall after a rehearsal and asked Schrickel and Frisch to describe and demonstrate the entertaining, high-wire act involved in performing Bottesini's music.