The Proud Bassoon

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COMPOSERS: Boismortier,Couperin,Dubourg,Fasch,Telemann
ALBUM TITLE: The Proud Bassoon
WORKS: Works by Boismortier, Couperin, Fasch, Telemann and Dubourg
PERFORMER: Peter Whelan (bassoon); Ensemble Marsyas


Sacheverell Sitwell once likened the sound of the bassoon to a sea god speaking. The deity speaks eloquently throughout this imaginatively assembled programme. Late Baroque composers were attracted by the expressive character of this mellow, darkly coloured instrument, and Peter Whelan explores its potential with affection and technical assurance. It was above all the elegiac tenor-register that attracted composers writing sonatas, concertos and assorted obbligatos; Bach, Handel, Vivaldi, Rameau and Michel Corrette provide many wonderful examples. Sonatas by Telemann and Johann Friedrich Fasch take centre stage here. Telemann’s F minor piece comes from his musical periodical, Der getreue Music-Meister. While allowing a treble recorder as an alternative solo instrument, it is clear from the start that he had the bassoon foremost in mind. Its opening Triste is a masterly essay in affective writing, and Whelan captures its melancholy with tasteful restraint.

Two Sonatas by Boismortier are full of Gallic charm and felicitous melodic invention. Generalised opinion has done this composer few favours in recent times. But any woodwind player will tell you that his music is sympathetically written and rewarding to play. A variety of frivolités round off a splendid recital.


Nicholas Anderson