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Bravura Bassoon
Johann Evangelist BRANDL (1760-1837)
Quintet in B flat Op.52/1 (c.1824) [18.30]
Gordon JACOB (1895-1984)
Suite for bassoon and string quartet (1969) [9.21]
Bernhard HEIDEN (1910-2000)
Serenade for bassoon, violin, viola and cello (1955) [22.09]
Heitor VILLA-LOBOS (1887-1959)
Corrupio, Bailado (1933) [2.18] +
Gerardo DIRIÉ (b.1958)
Anjo Breve for bassoon and string quintet (2001) [17.50] *
Benjamin Coelho (bassoon)
Maia String Quartet with
Christine Rutledge (viola)
Volkan Orhon (double bass) *+
Anthony Arnone (conductor)*
rec. St Bridget’s Church, Morse, IA, undated



As I wrote in my review of Crystal’s recent oboe disc Mist over the Lake, this company has the knack of compiling out-of-the-way repertoire in recitals that, sometimes despite themselves, seem always to work. This time it’s the turn of the bassoon and Benjamin Coelho.

Brandl starts things off with his very genial Quintet, with the quartet supplying very much a cushion for the bassoon. Beethoven was still alive when Brandl wrote it but its gentility is more backward looking than abrasive and challenging. Two things stand out – firstly, there’s no first movement exposition repeat and secondly that the slow movement really lives up to its claim of Andante con moto – it positively fizzes along. Gordon Jacob’s Suite is a useful addition – I’m not aware it’s otherwise available at the moment, as was also the case in their oboe disc with Bliss’s Conversations.  A mysterioso start over dripping pizzicati sets this work in motion and it’s full of Jacob’s expert writing and puckish wit (try the Caprice, for once exactly what it promises). There’s real warmth in the Elegy and March rhythms animate the finale.

Bernhard Heiden was born in 1910 and died in 2000. He’d studied with Hindemith and this Serenade, written in 1955, is very much in his teacher’s musical image.  So, in the Intermezzo, a charming one, one is aware of a certain aloof distance but that’s not the defining impression. That happens to be one of great variety and metric freedom, of rhythmic cleverness. From the counterpoint of the opening, through the light-footed march and the Hindemith-meets-Beethoven evocation of the Scherzo there’s always something to please the ear. Especially notable is the finale’s return to the opening’s pregnant contemplation.

The Villa-Lobos is a sliver, only 2.18, so completists shouldn’t get too excited – it’s fugal and vivacious and full of teeming colour. Finally there is Gerardo Dirié’s Anjo Breve (Small Angel). Born in Cordoba in Argentina in 1958 this seventeen-minute piece owes its origin to Brazilian literary inspirations – Carlos Drummond the Andrade and Jorge Amado. It is dedicated to, and was first performed by, the soloist here who plays it with full consideration of its alternately static and extended romantic moments. The central movement, all loquacity and conversational ferment, is especially taxing and enjoyable.

Once more the notes are helpful, the recording clear - though the recordings themselves are undated. Nothing here is too serious and there’s plenty of stylistic variety.

Jonathan Woolf


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