If you are not personally acquainted with one, you may not know that bassoonists are the class of the double reed family (bassoonists, oboists and English hornists), perhaps even of the entire reed family. That is to say, bassoonists seem to include an inordinate number of export wine fanciers and knowledgeable mushroom connoisseurs, and generally know how to savor life’s pleasures without taking the demands of the classical music business too seriously.
But if you think that bassoonists, once they pick up their mighty cudgels, most often take on the role of the orchestra’s clown, this two-CD set from one of the bassoon fraternity’s crown princes will set things to right. From the magnificent solo Bach which starts off the set, to the mysteries of new works by Reiner Bischof and Roland Batik – both composed for the great Turkovic – this is a compendium of fascinating, often beautiful music in performances of the highest caliber.
After the Bach, Telemann and the requisite if bottom-rung Mozart duet for bassoon and cello, the first CD ends with the delightfully happy strains of Weber’s Andante and Hungarian Rondo, the Vienna Philharmonia Quartet admirably taking the place of the full orchestra and Turkovic twirling his figurative moustache with great panache.
The second CD brings two great surprises: Chabrier’s lovely but only occasionally heard L’Invitation au Voyage, for soprano, piano and bassoon to a poem by Baudelaire, and Conradin Kreutzer’s totally obscure ballad for baritone, bassoon and piano – The Dead Bassoon – which recounts the romantic adventures of a musical knight and his bassoon, their grisly end and the instrument’s revenge! It is a clever parody of Schubert that will also serve as a demonstration piece for audiophile audio systems. It is also an opportunity to hear the great baritone Robert Holl.
Recorded in the Studio Baumgarten in Vienna, the sound by the Japanese Camerata label is superb, rich in color and nuance, and so vivid that you will be certain the players are there in the room with you.
– Laurence Vittes