The fifth and final bassoon recital in pursuit of the Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA) from Stony Brook University was held back in April 2023. This recital was centered around a few wonderful examples of varying compositional styles, composer nationalities, and works that should be played more! I will amend this statement with the caveat that, while they are all wonderful displays of the bassoon's technical and lyrical capabilities in both their individual and the modern eras, these are very difficult compositions.
All five of the recordings below are from my YouTube channel, if you enjoyed the recording or would like to further support my playing please subscribe to the channel! The more people who are interested in the work that I post, the better opportunities there are within this digital space!
You'll find below links to all five recordings, examples of program notes and the final prospectus for the Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA) degree at Stony Brook University that accompanied my final oral exam. Please scroll and listen/read at your leisure!
The prospectus document accompanied my final oral exam, and translated to the recital program notes
Click on the final program for information regarding layout and an example of program notes
Sonata V | Antoine Dard
Antoine Dard was a composer and bassoonist of the baroque era. Although many of his works have been lost to time, we are fortunate that his six bassoon sonatas are still in circulation today! He wrote these sonatas in the Galant Style; often characterized as light, intimate music of elaborate ornamentation with an air of nonchalance, and frivolity. These six sonatas are unprecedented for their time with respect to the range of the instrument, the Sonata V reaching an A3 on the bassoon, and technical facility required of the player. Dard himself claims that these sonatas are for “those who would play this instrument well”. The baroque bassoon gained a fifth key in the early 18th century, and numerous iterations of the instrument followed after. Dard’s upbringing occurred throughout these innovations, and it is in the spirit of his own, presumed, desire to expand the virtuosity of this instrument that these Six Sonatas were written. His Sonata V features a slow through-composed first and third movements, uncommon for the time, and a faster second and fourth movements.
Lied et Rondo | Marie-Véra Maixandeau
Marie-Véra Maixandeau is a name that many might not recognize. She was almost entirely blind from a young age, the result of a flawed ointment dosage prescribed by her doctor, however this didn’t impede her musical talent. She studied music composition from a young age, composing her first work at age twelve, the same age she was being hailed as a piano prodigy during concerto performances. She attended the Paris National Conservatory at age sixteen and was later commissioned by her alma mater for their annual concours (“competition”) for which her Lied et Rondo was created. The work features a thin, morphing lied in the transparent tenor register of the bassoon coupled with freer rubato sections which seamlessly tie into the next section. Her second free section ramps up into the Rondo. It is a wonderful yet dissonant section full of rhythmic speed bumps, fast articulations, and a final flourish encompassing the full range of the instrument.
Hallucinations | Alain Bernaud
One quarter century later, the Paris National Conservatory commissioned another alumnus for its annual concours: Alain Bernaud. Bernaud wrote many works throughout his professional life for numerous settings: short and feature films, television, orchestra, chamber ensembles, and solo works for a variety of instruments. Hallucinations is dedicated to prodigious bassoonist, and bassoon professor of the Conservatory at the time, Maurice Allard. This work is written as one continuous movement featuring many distinct sections. As the name suggests, these sections feature moments of manic note passages resembling a slipping in and out of sanity. We’re treated to slower, nebulous and wavering sections alongside faster sections with frantic mumbling sextuplets and sharp vertical motion to the bassoon’s extreme high register. The final section takes chromatic motion and splices an interval of each grouping up one octave, perfectly inserting it into the piano registration. You’ll hear the bassoon melt into the music, almost as if giving into the paranoia and hallucinations heard throughout the work.
Concerto in Eb Major | Édouard Dupuy
Another composer you may not be familiar with, much less a bassoon concerto written by him, is Édouard Dupuy. His bassoon concerto was premiered in Stockholm 1805 by leading bassoon soloist, Franz Carl Preumayr. However, the first recording of the work was not until 2020 by bassoonist Bram Van Sambeek. Dupuy’s musical experiences are many and varied, including performances as a violinist, opera singer, composer, and conductor throughout Berlin and Denmark. He eventually fled both countries for romantic and political reasons to return to his home country of Sweden. You’ll hear the influences of his performative inclinations throughout this concerto. Drawing on his operatic training, he writes beautiful soaring tenor melodies, especially in his second movement, while calling on his violin experiences to challenge the player with fast scalar figures nonstop throughout the first and third movements. The final movement of the concerto is his Rondo-Allegretto; a catchy, yet repetitive melody that drives us to the fun conclusion of a work I truly hope is played many times, and by players other than myself and Bram Van Sambeek.
Concertino | Francisco Mignone
The program comes to a close with a composer very well-known to bassoonists, Francisco Mignone. Mignone and his good friend, bassoonist Noel Devos, collaborated on numerous initiatives to codify the Brazilian Choro style into the standard bassoon repertoire. His Concertino features two movements, of which he describes as a Modinha Seresteira and Choro respectively. He describes this work as creating a nationalistic atmosphere, utilizing the music that was played throughout Rio de Janeiro as source material. The first movement lives within the passionate Modinha Seresteira style outlining chromatic motion alongside anticipatory gestures. The second movement then turns to a more lively and up-tempo Choro with many syncopated rhythms, and virtuosic technical moments. Mignone’s parents immigrated from Italy, and Devos immigrated himself from France. It is truly wonderful that two people coming from other parts of the world would come together to elevate the music that they’ve come to love in their new homes.