| Scherzo - Oleg Miroshnikov
| Syrinx - Claude Debussy
| Bachianas Brasileiras No. 6 - Heitor Villa-Lobos (Feat. Kaleigh Hull on flute)
| Turkisher March - Christian Julius Weissenborn (Feat. Annie Kosanovic-Brown, Andrew McKelvey on bassoon)
| Pizzicati Polka - Leo Delibes (DeArr. Mark Eubanks) (Feat. Annie Kosanovic-Brown, Sarah Montague on bassoon, and Andrew McKelvey on contrabassoon)
| - Intermission -
| Miniature Suite for Contrabassoon - Ralph Nicholson
| Concerto for Bassoon in F Major - Carl Maria von Weber
| Miroshnikov was a Russian bassoonist who lived in Paris for some time. Other than this interesting tid-bit, very little is known about him. A bassoon teacher by the name of Gustave Dh’rin came across Scherzo and published it; after which it became popular. Sol Schoenbach, the former principal bassoonist of the Philadelphia Orchestra, characterized the piece as, “The little piece that everyone loves.”
| Originally written for solo flute and subsequently transcribed for saxophone and, more recently, bassoon, Syrinx provides the performer with generous room for interpretation and emotion. Originally titled Flute de Pan as incidental music to the unfinished play Psyche by Gabriel Mourey, the final name was given to reference the myth of the pursuit of the nymph Syrinx by the god Pan. The story goes that Pan falls in love with Syrinx, but she does not reciprocate the love. To hide from Pan, she turns herself in a water reed and hides in the marshes. Pan cuts the reeds to make his pipes, in turn killing his love.
| Villa-Lobos being a modest man declared that the only great composers in the world are “Bach and I.” Bachianas Brasilereiras consists of 9 suites for varying instruments meant to be a fusion of Bach with Brasilian folk and popular music. No. 6 for Flute and Bassoon is best summarized by Orrin Howard: "The writing for both instruments is extremely demanding, particularly so for the flute. The first movement hews to a perceptibly contrapuntal texture, with melodies and countermelodies strongly delineated – thus the relationship to Bach. The Fantasia movement is the one that gives the impression, as the composer describes it, of serenade singing. The bassoon, not earthbound by any means, is still asked to function as controlling force for the flute, a role in which it fails until the very end of the piece, however, for the high wind is not to be detained from taking many wild, impulsive flights of fancy."
| Christian Julius Weissenborn is most well known for his methods for bassoon which every bassoonist uses a learning material throughout their career. In addition to these works, he had a small canon of Romantic works which includes Op. 4, 6 trios for 3 bassoons. Of these, No. 5, subtiteled Mitternachtliche Wachtparade (or “changing of the midnight guard” for those not fluent in German) is by far the cutest. One can just imagine several Turkish guards dancing in their little hats in the middle of the night when no one is looking.
| Mark Eubanks was the principal bassoonist for the Oregon Symphony for the better part of 3 decades. During his time there, be started a group called The Bassoon Brothers which is a group of four bassoonists/contrabassoonists who perform non-traditional works to put it lightly. He claims himself as the head deranger for the group often taking perfectly good pieces of music and changing them. Pizzicati is deranged for 3 bassoons and contrabassoon from the most famous Pizzicato section of Delibes Sylvia ballet. The piece is performed in the halting, hesitant style originally intended by Delibes with some of the irreverent Bassoon Brothers own stylistic adaptations.
| A bit about the contrabassoon: Contra being double, the instrument is twice the length of the regular bassoon for a total of about 16 feet of tubing and sounds an octave lower. The range starts at lowest note of a piano and theoretically expands up about 5 ½ octaves, although the last octave is rarely used. Tonally it is similar to the bassoon, albeit deeper and capable of more organ pedal like to almost volcanic qualities in the lower register when needed. Often sounding below tubas, the contrabassoon is often used as a foundation for the rest of the orchestra or band.
Solo work for the bassoon is a rare treat indeed. Nicholson’s writing shows the wide range that a contrabassoon can perform. The first movement is surprising virtuoistic, which is not a quality thought to be had by such a low and cumbersome instrument, with sweeping lines of notes running from the lower to upper registers of the instrument. Contrabassoons were popular in church music in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, and the second movement is reminiscent of what the instrument may have sounded like in this setting. Listen for the distinct organ pedal sound quality that the contrabassoon mimics. Light is not a word that should be associated with the instrument by any stretch of the imagination, so the third movement, Waltz, can only be a waltz of the hippos. Finally, Finale provides what is expected of a contrabassoon, chunky and humorous, but not without displaying some of the vituoistic elements seen in the first movement.
| Carl Maria von Weber is best known for his opera work, so his Op. 75 for Bassoon and Orchestra can be thought of as a miniature opera for the bassoon. Being one of the two most important pieces in the bassoon repertoire, the other being Mozart’s bassoon concerto, it is one of the most prolifically performed. The bassoon is capable of a wide range of emotions and characters, and Weber masterfully captures them all in the first movement. First is a cocky and triumphant theme followed by a second calm a reflective portion. The rest of the movement is filled with giant mood swings with the remaining markings being brilliante (brilliant), dolce (sweetly), con fuocco (with fire), dolce, and ending with brilliante. To further exaggerate the drama, Weber demands much from the bassoonist asking for scales and arpeggios that quickly move from notes in high to low registers. Before the final cadence, an ascending line to a D5, a mere 2 or 3 notes below the highest of the modern instrument, is written is another show of the virtuosity of the instrument.
The second movement is reminiscent of Weber’s slow soprano arias where operatic lyricism is prominent throughout. Weber relies heavily on the appoggiatura (Italian “to lean upon”) which is used in singing to express great emotion. This writing lends itself well to the tenor voice of the bassoon, and minus the dramatic octave changes, the movement can easily be sung.
Humor is the most prominent emotion in the third movement. The initial melody – that of the joker in my mind – is impish and catchy, which will make it easy to identify as it reoccurs many times in the movement. Dramatic mood swings from the first movement reappear, but this time espressivo and scherzando (playfully) are thrown in for good measure. See if you can identify parts of an operatic story such as the joker’s laugh, the bar scene, and his pathetic attempts at apologies. After the final statement of the melody, the music runs off in a flurry of arpeggios and scales ending in one bassoon repertoire’s flashiest endings.