john feeney


19 Apr 2013
Oberon's Grove Groove Review
Another review of the cd.

Who Is Domenico Dragonetti?


Or I guess more appropriately: who was Domenico Dragonetti?  Well, he was something of a rock-star in his day (late-18th thru mid-19th century), a virtuoso double-bass player who left his native Venice in 1794 for London where his career flourished. He came to be admired by such great composers as Beethoven, Haydn, Mendelssohn, Pagannini, Liszt and Rossini.

A prodigy, by age 13 Domenico was playing in the orchestra of the Venetianopera buffa company. Prior to leaving Venice, the young Dragonetti had risen to the rank of principal double-bassist of the Ducal Chapel of St. Mark's - a very prestigious position - where he had ample opportunity to perform his own solo compositions. Later he extended his compositional realm to chamber music, and thus does the current story evolve:


In 1996 John Feeney (above) principal double bassist of the Orchestra of St. Luke's, discovered a sheaf of unpublished Dragonetti chamber compositions while doing research at the British Museum. Working with Grancino Editions, Mr. Feeney edited the manuscripts and the scores are now published.

John Feeney has joined the Loma Mar Quartet in the recording studios and the result is a CD entitled Dragonetti's New Academy, a programme of three string quintets and a quartet by the composer all played with splendid rhythmic vitality and colour.

Stylistically in the same general mode as Mozart, Boccherini and Haydn, Dragonetti's music shares with those more illustrious composers both melodic appeal and virtuoso opportunities for the players. The double-bass gives these works a depth of harmonics and a greater feeling of density than works featuring the oft-heard violin-viola-cello line-up.

Listening to music always makes me envision dance and these Dragonetti works seem very viable as potential sources of inspiration for choreographers looking for something classical yet off the beaten path. Individual movements of the four recorded pieces recorded here would make lovely free-standing dances or could be incorporated into larger, compiled arrangements for dance.

I've come across this article about the restoration of Dragonetti's prized double-bass.



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