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
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
See Arthur Butterworth website