Commissioned by the Northern Sinfonia

  • 1221/2000/str
  • bassoon
  • 17 min

Programme Note

This concerto was commissioned for Michael Chapman by the Northern Sinfonia Concert Society Limited with funds made available by the Arts Council of Great Britain.

My concerto was composed in 1973, and is scored for the same orchestra as Mozart's G minor symphony (in the version with clarinets) minus one bassoon. It is in two movements, a slow and a fast, the second following the first without a break. A hesitant rhythm on the lower strings introduces the entry of the solo bassoon and becomes a feature of the movement as a whole. The hesitancy of the opening rhythm is matched by the ambiguity of the tonal centre which presents a conflict between the rival claims of Bb and Gb which is only resolved - in favour of Bb - at the end of the whole work. A lyrical second theme - with the pulsating rhythm of the opening as an accompaniment - displays the cantabile quality of the bassoon.

The second movement presents the solo instrument in a more agile role, his syncopated rhythms cutting across the regularity of the accompanying ostinato. As the movement nears its climax the soloist's voice merges with those of the other wind instruments of the orchestra in a fugato which culminates in the entry of the horns with the subject in augmentation. The cadenza which follows exploits to the full the extremes of the solo instrument's compass, and recalls some of the material of the first movement. The work ends in a rumbustuous tutti in which the solo bassoon also participates.

© John Joubert


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