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Early Music

Classical Editor: Rob Barnett                               Founder Len Mullenger

Antonio ROSETTI (c.1750-1792)
Bassoon Concertos

Concerto in Bb major (Murray C73) (ed.Hoffmeister)
Concerto in Bb major (Murray C69) (ed.Johannes Moesus)
Concerto in F major (Murray C75) (ed.Johannes Moesus)
Concerto in Bb major (Murray C74) (ed.Stevens)
Albrecht Holder, bassoon
New Brandenburg Orchestra/Nicolás Pasquet
Recorded at the Neustrelitz Concert Hall, 15th-17th May 2001
NAXOS 8.555341 [71:29]


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Antonio Rosetti is known to most musicians only as the so-called ‘inventor’ of the Wind Quintet, and has thus gained the status of an ‘IHF’ – the great D.F. Tovey’s amusingly snooty label for the relatively talentless individuals who people the pages of musical history – ‘Interesting Historical Figures’.

Is this label a fair one for Rosetti (or ‘Rösler’ as he seems to have been born in what is now the Czech Republic)? These four concertos are genial, attractive music, well-crafted and gratefully written for the soloist. As you can see, Rosetti was an almost exact contemporary of Mozart’s, and, as the latter’s one surviving bassoon concerto is in the key occupied by three of Rosetti’s works – Bb major – the comparison is clearly there to be made. Not surprisingly, Mozart’s little masterpiece, one of his most delightful youthful works, is in a completely different league. But then, Mozart’s music is in a completely different league from almost everyone else’s anyway, so that the comparison doesn’t really tell you much about Rosetti!

The honest truth is that these concertos are very bland. They rarely do anything remotely surprising, and the harmony clings closely to the primary triads in whatever key the music is in at the time. Melodies are formulaic and hardly any of them stuck in my memory, the notable exception being the jaunty rondo theme of the F major Concerto. In fact, this movement is probably the most characterful of the twelve on this disc, with little quirky changes of tempo for the various sections and some nice touches of humour.

Here, as elsewhere, the playing by Holder and his accompanists is of a consistently high standard. The music may be unremarkable, but the solo parts are tricky, with all kinds of scale and arpeggio passages, rapid staccato writing, wide skips etc. This is the ‘bread and butter’ of bassoon solo music, but Holder succeeds in making it sound a great deal easier than it actually is. His tone is emphatically German – super-smooth, with impeccable intonation within a narrow dynamic range. The New Brandenburg Orchestra plays stylishly and cleanly, always balancing sensitively with the unassuming soloist.

Enjoyable, undemanding music, captured beautifully in this excellent recording.

Gwyn Parry-Jones

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