Maxwell Davies, Berlin, Douglas, Mozetich, Piazzolla, Scott, Canavan, etc

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Berlin,Canavan,Douglas,etc,Maxwell Davies,Mozetich,Piazzolla,Scott
LABELS: BIS Northern Lights
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Feast
WORKS: Works
PERFORMER: Caliban Quartet; Bill Douglas (piano), Mark Duggan (percussion), Kate Crossan (singer)
Bassoonists are a sociable lot, always meeting up to play in ensembles, learn in workshops, or just have a good time. Well, this disc by a quartet of Canadian bassoonists could serve as a demonstration of technique and musicianship to any workshop, and it also has the feeling of a very good party. One reason is the numbers by the pianist (and former bassoonist) Bill Douglas, an intoxicating brew of jazz, Celtic and Caribbean influences. There are also two tuneful dance pieces by Mathieu Lussier; and if Marjan Mozetich’s larger-scale Odes to the Americas doesn’t quite come off, it’s only because it’s simply too entertaining to convey the composer’s intended critique of American culture. Fraser Jackson of the Quartet contributes beautifully turned arrangements of two little Maxwell Davies piano pieces, an Irish lament (complete with singer), a soulful Piazzolla tango, and a couple of hilarious novelty numbers by the pre-war jazz bandleader Raymond Scott. Another member, Chris Millard, offers a more creative treatment of Irving Berlin’s Steppin’ Out with My Baby, which cheekily quotes the bassoon solo from the opening of Stravinsky’s Sacre – a tone up! Throughout, the Quartet’s stunningly precise ensemble and tuning, and its expressive solo playing (even on contrabassoon), make this essential listening for bassoonists. But it’s also great fun for the rest of us. Anthony Burton