Kurt‡g, Schoeller, Boulez

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Boulez,Kurtag,Schoeller
LABELS: Stradivarius
WORKS: Gérard de Nerval; Kroó György in memoriam, Isis II; Lamento; Omaggio Kurtág; Dialogue à l’ombre double
PERFORMER: Pascal Gallois (bassoon), Garth Knox (viola), Sarah O’Brien (harp), Nicholas Isherwood (baritone)
CATALOGUE NO: STR 33625
The focus of all six works here is the phenomenal bassoon-playing of Pascal Gallois; each piece was composed with his astonishing technical agility, sense of lyricism and range of sonic effects in mind. In the case of Pierre Boulez’s Dialogue à l’ombre double, the result is specifically refracted through this bassoonist’s virtuosity; it was originally composed for clarinet and electronics in 1985, and at Gallois’s prompting the composer made this arrangement for him a decade later. The live instrument’s torrents of notes, using every morsel of its prodigious range, are set against similar pre-recorded musical images, with a subtle halo of reverberation.

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The Dialogue is easily the most substantial score on the disc; György Kurtág’s two memorials for solo bassoon are utterly characteristic, pithy miniatures in which not a note, nor the tiniest detail of articulation, is squandered. Philippe Schoeller is far less familiar. Born in Paris in 1957, he studied with Boulez, Xenakis and Donatoni, and his music seems to trace out unrevealed dramatic scenarios. Isis II is a duet for bassoon and harp in which the protagonists vie for supremacy; Lamento, for bassoon and harp, is full of delicate colours and evasive gestures, while his Kurtág homage makes a rather lugubrious setting of a Shakespeare sonnet. Gallois’s playing, though, is always a marvel. Andrew Clements