Works for Bassoon and Orchestra

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COMPOSERS: Berwald,Elgar and Gershwin,Hummel,Jacobi,Weber
LABELS: Chandos
ALBUM TITLE: Hummel, Weber, Berwald, Jacobi, Elgar and Gershwin
WORKS: Works by Hummel, Weber, Berwald, Jacobi, Elgar and Gershwin
PERFORMER: Karen Geoghegan (bassoon); Opera North Orchestra/Ben Wallfisch
CATALOGUE NO: CHAN 10477

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Hearing Karen Geoghegan as a finalist in BBC’s Classical Star series last year, the MD of Chandos immediately offered her a recording – and with Opera North’s orchestra which maintains variety and freshness by its work outside the pit. With a blank sheet before her, Geoghegan has selected a programme of wonderful bassoon party-pieces, just right for demonstrating her exceptional facility. She scampers unscathed through the dazzling ending of Weber’s Allegretto Ungarese, Op. 35, and bounds undaunted through the off-beat octaves and finger-knitting figurations of Hummel’s aptly-named Grand Concerto. In contrast, she invites us to wallow in the sentimental variations on ‘Home, sweet home’, the Andante of Berwald’s Bassoon Concerto. And if Carl Jacobi, a 19th-century bassoonist himself, didn’t write music of great intrinsic merit, he knew exactly how to show off the instrument in his Polonaise. But Geoghegan has real expressive maturity too. Elgar’s Romance is heavenly and, as an encore, Gershwin’s ‘Summertime’ deliciously dreamy, showing off a glorious tone, coloured with gentle, restrained vibrato. Only in the Andante of the Weber piece did I feel she has room to develop a more personal touch. The orchestra gives generous and excellently balanced support. Buy it – and share in the fun. George Pratt