WORKS: Quartets for Bassoon and Strings, Op. 40
PERFORMER: Robert Thompson (bassoon), Roger Coull (violin), David Curtis (viola), John Todd (cello)
CATALOGUE NO: 3503
In the notes which accompany his disc, Colin Lawson contends that the use of period instruments for this music brings out a range of colours and nuances which have been evened out by modern clarinets, and his performances here are most persuasive in that respect.
He begins with the beautiful Duo by Norbert Burgmüller, who died at the tragically early age of 26, and whose lyrical style is reminiscent of Schubert. This piece, along with Carl Loewe’s equally attractive Scottish Pictures Op. 112, should prove a delight to all listeners, and both will surely enter the general clarinet repertoire. The best-known work, Weber’s Grand Duo Concertant Op. 48, receives a very dramatic reading emphasising its operatic qualities and making full use of the widely contrasting timbres of the boxwood clarinet. Likewise the increasingly popular Sonata concertante by Danzi undoubtedly gains in character from this period performance.
Modern instruments are used for Danzi’s Three Quartets Op. 40, in which Robert Thompson and the Coull Quartet give accomplished renditions of music which is generally amiable but uninspired. The Second Quartet is the most interesting of the three, with some welcome changes of texture. Overall this is pleasant but unchallenging listening. Tim Payne