> English bassoon Concertos CDWHL2132 [PS]: Classical Reviews- May2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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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]


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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.

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.

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.

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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