Gerard Hoffnung CDs
Six Quartets for Bassoon and Strings Op.1 (c.1779)
I Virtuosi Italiani
rec. Sala Maffeiana del Teatro Filarmonico, Verona, April
NAXOS 8.570500 [59:07]
Georg Wenzel Ritter was
a bassoonist, whose father played in the famous Mannheim
orchestra. By the time he was fifteen so was Georg. Later
he followed King Friedrich Wilhelm II to Munich where he
remained until his death in 1808. Ritter was greatly admired;
Mozart intended the bassoon part in the Sinfonia concertante
K297b for Ritter as indeed he did the obbligato parts in
Idomeneo, and they met in Paris and Munich.
was a composer as well as an executant. He wrote two bassoon
concertos and the Op.1 Quartets recorded here. They were
written around 1779 and are cast in two movements – generally
an Allegro followed by a Rondeau or Minuetto. They show the
expected finesse of a composer-practitioner; range, colour,
breath control, balance. They’re well written, pleasing,
elegantly crafted, and often enjoyable works.
gives the violin some expected concertante roles throughout
the set and in that respect he exercises democratic distribution
of melodic interest between the violin and the bassoon. For
the main part the viola and cello have dramatically subservient
roles. The bassoon runs in the Allegro of No.1 sounds not
unadjacent to the solo violin runs in Mozart’s violin concertos – the
ethos is not dissimilar. The Rondeau finale of this quartet
is buoyant and bubbling if rather conventional.
Second Quartet has a more stately and refined profile albeit
one fizzing with lots of figuration. There are some fine
exchanges between bassoon and violin though this time the
former claims the greatest share of interest. Ritter gives
the second melody to the violin in the Third Quartet before
the bassoon returns for some loquacious drollery. Its Rondeau
finale is perhaps the best balanced of the finales with well
contrasted and a relaxed pattern of voice distribution. The Rondeau
Gratioso of the Fourth Quartet is the one with the greatest
amount of sheer charm, finely evinced in this performance.
disc sheds some interesting light on a Mozartian protagonist,
one whose compositional achievements, whilst modest, also
manage to enrich the repertoire of bassoon chamber music.
The performances are good, the recording equally so. Not
essential but certainly unusual fare.
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