Le Charme du Basson
Camille SAINT-SAËNS (1835-1921)
Bassoon Sonata in G, op.168 (1921) [12:48]
Roger BOUTRY (b.1932)
Interférences I (1972) [9:20]
Alexandre TANSMAN (1897-1986)
Sonatine (1952) [8:53]
Henri DUTILLEUX (b.1916)
Sarabande et Cortčge (1942) [6:55]
Marcel BITSCH (b.1921)
Concertino (1948) [7:11]
Francis POULENC (1899-1963)
Trio for oboe, bassoon and piano (1926) [12:40]
Bence Bogányi (bassoon)
Brigitte Engelhard (piano)
Clara Dent (oboe)
rec. August Everding Hall, Forest Green, England; Bavarian Radio [Poulenc]. No dates given. DDD

Hungarian-born bassoonist Bence Bogányi comes from a musical family - his brothers are the better-known pianist Gergely and cellist/conductor Tibor. This appears to be Bence's first solo CD.

As important works in the bassoon repertoire, all items on this release have been recorded before, and some have even appeared together a few times on other similar French-themed 'concept' albums - see recent reviews here and here, for example.

Opening the programme, the Bassoon Sonata in G by Saint-Saëns is probably the best-known work on the disc, a staple of every bassoon recitalist. Rather poignantly, this was Saint-Saëns's very last published work; incredible to think that a work of such vitality and originality was written by an 85-year-old who knew he was close to death - so close indeed that he never got to hear a performance. The graceful, wistful Adagio makes a fitting swansong.

Roger Boutry's faintly jazzy Interférences I - incorrectly spelt "Enterférences" in the track-listing - is by far the most recent work on this disc, yet the four brief sections - each a bit longer than the one before - are nonetheless as widely appealing as they are imaginative, particularly the carefree finale, which is as French as a packet of Gauloises, but much healthier. Alexandre Tansman's Sonatine is a highly virtuosic work, although the technical difficulties are masterfully concealed in three movements that are full of good humour, nostalgic melody and lilting energy.

The two shortest works in the programme, veteran composer Marcel Bitsch's Concertino - which incidentally also exists in an orchestral version - and Henri Dutilleux's Sarabande et Cortčge, are very attractive, and surprisingly similar, admixtures of almost elegiac intimacy and refined virtuosity and balance.

The final work, Poulenc's early Trio, is perhaps a little out of place here, because much of its appeal is undoubtedly attributable to the lighter texture provided by the oboe. Nevertheless, it is far from unwelcome: an irresistible work, teeming with melody colour, symmetries and charm, and German oboist Clara Dent is a match for Bogányi's understated technique.

The accompanying glossy booklet is nicely detailed, but the nine separate colour photos of Bogányi might be considered de trop. Dent also has five photos, even though she only appears in the Poulenc! Neither track timings nor work dates nor composer dates are given anywhere; this latter is particularly counter-productive - not every potential buyer is going to be familiar with Boutry or Bitsch, perhaps not even with Tansman or Dutilleux.

Nevertheless, these are minor distractions. Bogányi's intonation and technique are excellent throughout, and Brigitte Engelhard's piano provides sterling support in a programme that adds up to a Fagott dish that is a real cordon bleu treat.

Collected reviews and contact at reviews.gramma.co.uk

A Fagott dish that is a real cordon bleu treat.