Double Bass in Quartets/Quintets

I am just listening to Schubert’s Trout Quintet. Love the double bass undertones. Am I wrong but is there very little music for the double bass in Quartets or Quintets in classical music? Of course there is lots written in chamber music and symphonies. In jazz the double bass is an absolute staple instrument. Who can forget the opening of Kind of Blue with Paul Chambers’ bass opening lines. Any recommendations for classical music would be appreciated.

I can heartily recommend Edgar Meyer’s recording of Bach’s Cello Suites, which he performs on double bass. It’s solo of course, rather than a quartet or quintet, but it really is quite wonderful. It was recommended to me by a former Forum member who is a huge fan of Bach’s music.

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Thanks HH. I shall look it up and purchase a copy.

Meyer has also composed several classical works. In addition, he’s a leader in the world of Newgrass. I’ve seen him twice in recital with Bela Fleck on banjo. Their concerts often include transcriptions of Bach. The below is with Yo Yo Ma and Chris Thile on mandolin.

Yes, I have his album with Béla Fleck, Music for Two, which includes some Bach pieces. Looking at Discogs, he’s done a lot more than I realised.

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i enjoy music we love by victoria mullova on violin and her son misha mullov-abbado on double bass (sorry not a quartet)

I have that album too.

The first time I saw the two together, they were playing a work when a cellphone went off. Meyer glared at the audience, but kept going until it went off again. And a third and fourth time. It was around then that I and much of the audience realized the ringtone was part of the work.

Afterwards, Meyer told the story of a performance of The Trout where a phone went off, and he began to glare until he realized it was his own phone.

Thanks HH I’ve been looking for a way into Classical music for a while now and just listened to this via Tidal and enjoyed it very much.

I’d never heard of Edgar Meyer before but searching for the Bach Cello Suites I found this duet with Christian McBride who I do know playing ‘Solar’ a tune I know very well from Miles’ Quintet album Walkin’.

Again not a Quartet or a Quintet but hope you all enjoy it.

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If you want the Cello Suites on the original instrument, Rostropovich made a wonderful set for EMI, beautifully recorded.

Thanks. I have that recording. Two more recent recordings, both excellent but very different to each other, are by Isang Enders and Viola de Hoog. Bach’s music is endlessly flexible of course, and Rachel Podger has done a lovely version on violin. One of my favourite versions is this, simply wonderful.

Schubert also composed an Octet. The instrumentation includes a double bass and three wind instruments, together with a string quartet. And it’s a marvelous work, better than the Trout IMHO.

If we’re going beyond four or five instruments, Saint-Saëns’ Carnival of the Animals includes a double bass among its five strings. It features prominently in some of the movements, particularly when it’s impersonating an elephant.


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