Program 172
"Tunes for Bassoons"

MUSIC: Weber: excerpt from beginning of second movement of Andante and Hungarian Rondo for Bassoon and Orchestra [MSR Classics MS 1232, track 12 [under the following]

Hello and welcome to Compact Discoveries. I’m your guide, Fred Flaxman. Stay with me for the next hour and we’ll listen together to several delightful, melodious “Tunes for Bassoons.”

MUSIC: Fades out

Compared to the piano, the violin, or the cello, the much-maligned bassoon is not used very often as a solo instrument, forcing some bassoonists to create their own transcriptions of music originally written for other solo instruments. But there are some very beautiful pieces that were created by some very well-known composers especially for the bassoon. You’ll hear some of these in this program.

As it happens, the five pieces that I’m about to play for you been recorded on the MSR Classics label, and I thank that American company for supplying the CDs for this program.

Let’s start right now with my very favorite tune for bassoons: Carl Maria von Weber’s Andante and Hungarian Rondo. This great work, with its catchy melodies and happy rhythms, was originally written for viola and orchestra, but it was Weber himself who transcribed it for bassoon in 1813. It is now available in two different, delicious flavors: for bassoon and piano, and bassoon and orchestra. As it isn’t a very long piece, I’ll play both versions for you back to back so that, if this piece is a compact discovery for you, you’ll emerge from the next 18 minutes with these tunes firmly implanted in your musical memory.

We’ll begin with the version for bassoon and piano. Frank Morelli is the bassoonist; Gilbert Kalish, the pianist. The orchestral version features bassoonist Nadina Mackie Jackson with the Toronto Chamber Orchestra conducted by Nicholas McGegan.

MUSIC: Weber: Andante e Rondo Ungarese, Op. 35 for bassoon and piano performed by Frank Morelli, bassoon, and Gilbert Kalish, piano [MSR Classics MS 1172, tracks 11 and 12]  [9:35]

MUSIC: Weber: Andante and Hungarian Rondo for Bassoon and Orchestra performed by Nadina Mackie Jackson, bassoon, with the Toronto Chamber Orchestra conducted by Nicholas McGegan [MSR CLassics MS 1232, tracks 11 and 12]
 [9:03]

Two versions of Weber’s delightful Andante and Hungarian Rondo for Bassoon and Orchestra. In the first we heard Frank Morelli on bassoon with Gilbert Kalish on piano. In the second, bassoonist Nadina Mackie Jackson accompanied by the Toronto Chamber Orchestra conducted by Nicholas McGegan.



Next let’s listen to the final movement of a piece that was written originally for the bassoon: Johann Nepomuk Hummel’s Grand Concerto in F Major for Bassoon and Orchestra.

According to the program notes accompanying this MSR Classics recording, Hummel was considered the best European pianist of his time, a great improviser, an admired composer, teacher and conductor. He was born in 1775 and was a child prodigy on both violin and piano. His talent caught the attention of Mozart, who then invited Hummel to study with him for two years, free of charge. Beethoven thought so much of Hummel that he requested that Hummel improvise at his memorial service.

The Grand Concerto in F Major for Bassoon and Orchestra was rediscovered in the mid-1950s. We hear the third movement now as performed by bassoonist Nadina Mackie Jackson with the Toronto Chamber Orchestra conducted by Nicholas McGegan.

MUSIC: Hummel: Grand Concerto in F Major for Bassoon and Orchestra , third movement, performed by Nadina Mackie Jackson, bassoon, with the Toronto Chamber Orchestra conducted by Nicholas McGegan [MSR CLassics MS 1232, track 6]

The final movement of Hummel’s Grand Concerto in F Major for Bassoon and Orchestra. The bassoonist was Nadina Mackie Jackson. The Toronto Chamber Orchestra was conducted by Nicholas McGegan on on MSR Classics compact disc.

You are listening to “Tunes for Bassoons” on this hour of Compact Discoveries. I’m your guide, Fred Flaxman.

[optional one-minute break not included in the total timing of the program]

Next, another composition that was written especially for the bassoon by a major composer: Camille Saint-Saëns. His three-movement Sonata for Bassoon and Piano, Opus 168, was written, in fact, for a specific bassoonist: Léon Letellier, bassoonist of the Paris Opera and professor at the Paris Conservatory. Saint-Saëns’ sonata came just months before he proclaimed at the age of 85 that he had no further music compositions in his head. “The harvest,” he said, “was gathered in.”

The bassoonist in this MSR Classics recording, once again, is Frank Morelli. The pianist is Gilbert Kalish.

MUSIC: Saint-Saëns: Sonata for Bassoon and Piano performed by Frank Morelli, bassoon, and Gilbert Kalish, piano [MSR Classics MS 1172, tracks 5 -7] [13:31]

Camille Saint-Saëns’ Sonata for Bassoon and Piano, Opus 168. The bassoonist was Frank Morelli; the pianist, Gilbert Kalish.

Our final selection on this Compact DIscoveries hour devoted to “Tunes for Bassoons” is from an MSR Classics album called “Bassoon Brasileiro.” It is by Francisco Mignone and is called Concertino for Bassoon and Chamber Orchestra. It is a two-movement work written in 1957.

Francisco Mignone was the son of newly arrived Italian immigrants to Brazil. He was born in Sao Paolo in 1897, a decade after Brazil’s most famous composer, Hector Villa-Lobos. Like Villa-Lobos, Mignone began performing popular music while in his teens. Although he wrote numerous popular songs, using a pseudonym, he studied composition in the European musical tradition in both Brazil and Europe.

His Concertino for Bassoon and Chamber Orchestra was written in 1957 in traditional form, but the themes are clearly Brazilian in character, as you’ll hear now. Frank Morelli is the bassoonist once again. This time he’s accompanied by the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra.

MUSIC: Mignone: Concertino for Bassoon and Chamber Orchestra performed by Frank Morelli, bassoon, with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra [MSR Classics MS 1110, tracks 1 and 2] [5:10]

Francisco Mignone’s Concertino for Bassoon and Chamber Orchestra. Frank Morelli was the bassoonist with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra.

MUSIC: Weber: excerpt from beginning of second movement of Andante and Hungarian Rondo for Bassoon and Orchestra [MSR Classics MS 1232, track 12 [under the following]

And that concludes this hour of Compact Discoveries devoted to “Tunes for Bassoons.” I hope you enjoyed the music. This is Fred Flaxman thanking you for listening, and reminding you to go to compactdiscoveries.com for complete information on all of these programs as well as the opportunity to stream them on demand, read their transcripts, order CDs used in the programs, and enjoy articles about compact discs.

Special thanks to MSR Classics recordings for supplying all of the recordings used in this program.

My personal interest in bassoon music and this program were inspired by my son, an amateur bassoonist, and by the bassonist in the sexy, hilarious Brazilian movie, Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands. Well, I never know where my program ideas will come from. In this case I thought of the title, “Tunes for Bassoons,” first and just had to create a program that would match the title!

ANNOUNCER (Steve Jencks): Compact Discoveries is made possible in part by Story Book Publishers and their latest offering, a tongue-in-cheek memoir by Compact Discoveries host Fred Flaxman called “Sixty Slices of Life ... on Wry: The Private Life of a Public Broadcaster.” Information and ordering at sixtyslices.com. And by the financial support of Isabel and Marvin Leibowitz, and an anonymous donor from Palm Beach, Florida. And by contributions to local public radio stations by listeners like you. Thank you.

Total Program Timing: 57:00


 
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