French Music for the Bassoon — a varied and satisfying collection

If you get this release, be sure to read the liner notes. They explain the origin of the bassoon from the Rennaissance curtal. These two double-reed low-register instruments existed side-by-side for almost a century.

Only in the 1700’s did the bassoon finally supplanted the curtal completely. And that’s the era featured in this recording.

This is an extensive collection of French music composed for the bassoon. The first disc pairs Michel Corrette and Joseph Bodin de Boismortier.

Corrette’s “Les délices de la solitude” seem to have been pedagogic compositions. But they’re well-written. The bassoonist encounters many technical challenges. But they’re all in service to the melody.

Boismortier was more concerned with popularity than pedagogy. His bassoon sonatas are elegant, refined, and good-natured. There’s plenty for the soloist to do, but it doesn’t seem to be on the same technical level as Corrette’s works.

Disc two features the six Op. 24 bassoon sonatas of Francois Devienne. Devienne was a virtuoso flutist, and his knowledge of wind instruments is on display.

These works were composed around 1790, well into the time of Mozart and Haydn. They do have the same elegance of line that those composers showed. And the music lies so well on the bassoon! These are beautifully crafted works, indeed.

The third disc is a collection of instructional sonatas by Etienne Ozi. Ozi was a bassoonist and knew what he was about. This collection came out in 1803 and presents a wide range of techniques for the player to master.

What impressed me most about these pieces were the choices of instruments. The bassoon is accompanied by a cello. Two low register instruments playing together could sound like mud. But Ozi expertly keeps each instrument separated. The melody is easy to follow, as is the bass line.

Danny Bond performs with a copy of a 1765 French bassoon. That’s significant. Some of these works have some awkward passages for a modern bassoon. But they work well on the instrument they were written for.

Bond plays with a warm, singing tone. His rapid passagework is impeccable, tossing off trills and mordents like nobody’s business.

French Music for Bassoon
Michel Corrette, Joseph Bodin de Boismortier, Francois Devienne, Etienne Ozi
Danny Bond, bassoon; Robert Kohnen, harpsicord; Richte van der Meer, cello
Accent 3 CD Set

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