April 7th 2009

Review from May 2002

 

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ENGLISH BASSOON CONCERTOS
Eric FOGG (1903-1939)

Bassoon Concerto (1930)
John ADDISON (1920-1998)
Bassoon Concertino (1998)
Peter HOPE (b.1930)

Bassoon Concertino (2000)
Arthur BUTTERWORTH (b.1923)

Summer Music (1985)
Graham Salvage (bassoon)
Royal Ballet Sinfonia/Gavin Sutherland (Butterworth conducted by composer)
Rec 26/27 Feb 2001, Whitfield Street Studios, London
ASV CD WHL 2132 [75.21]

Although this label is no more there are still copies available from the retailers on the left.

 

 

The bassoon appears to be the least popular of the major wind instruments, particularly when it comes to solo repertoire. Many people, ignoring its expressive and lyrical qualities, still write it off, wrongly as just the comedian of the orchestra. All the greater welcome, then, for this disc of English concerted works for it, which affords good variety in splendidly focused and well recorded performances.

Graham Salvage, principal bassoon with the Hallé Orchestra, gratefully accepts the opportunity to display his solo skills in four little known pieces – all are, I believe, first recordings – while Gavin Sutherland is undoubtedly one of our finest young conductors and not just in light music. (Butterworth conducts his own composition).

Of the four works, two, the Concertinos, are categorisable, for what such compartmentalisation is worth, as light music; the other two are more serious, though still agreeably accessible. The neglect of Eric Fogg’s Concerto, premiered and much admired by Archie Camden, is surprising if not scandalous. I once asked Archie’s son Kerry, himself a fine bassoonist, about this; he was unable to satisfy me as to why it lacked performances, though he said his pupils did not ignore it in their studies. It is indeed worthy of study as the writing is superb throughout and no one could fail to warm to its gorgeously lyrical slow movement.

Eric Fogg: Concerto in D

Opening 1st movement: Allegro vivace
Opening 2nd Movement: Grave e molto sostenuto
Extract 3rd Movement: Con spirito

 

The Butterworth, inspired by the scenery of the Yorkshire Dales, is generally melancholy; even the more animated finale is valedictory – but then the English countryside has so often inspired music which is more or less wistful.

Arthur Butterworth: Summer Music

Extract 1st Movement: Allegretto, pastorale
Extract 2nd Movement: Nocturne (Lento)
Extract 3rd Movement: The Lament of the Summer Wind

The two Concertinos are fun. The Addison, which has four movements, is very much in his well remembered, engaging tuneful and tangy idiom and is his last work. Peter Hope has long been a highly respected figure in light music circles, as an arranger quite as much as a composer. Its long opening movement alternates lyrical and strongly rhythmic passages; the second movement is based on jazz and blues elements, the finale is Latin American inspired.

John Addison: Concertino
Opening 4th Movement: Moderato

Peter Hope: Concertino
Opening 2nd Movement: Quasi blues


This highly recommendable issue is excellent advocacy for the bassoon repertoire and this country’s substantial contribution thereto.

Philip Scowcroft

See Arthur Butterworth website

 

 

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