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Concerto for Bassoon (Zwilich)

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Ellen Taaffe Zwilich

Ellen Taaffe Zwilich (trans. Tim Hill)


General Info

Year: 1992 / 2016
Duration: c. 17:30
Difficulty: VI (see Ratings for explanation)
Original Medium: Bassoon and Orchestra
Publisher: U.S. Navy Band
Cost: Score and Parts - Unknown


Movements

1. Maestoso
2. Allegro molto


Instrumentation

Full Score
Solo Bassoon
C Piccolo
Flute I-II
Oboe I-II
English Horn
E-flat Soprano Clarinet
B-flat Soprano Clarinet Solo-I-II-III
B-flat Bass Clarinet
B-flat Contrabass Clarinet
B-flat Soprano Saxophone
E-flat Alto Saxophone
B-flat Tenor Saxophone
E-flat Baritone Saxophone
C Trumpet
B-flat Flugelhorn I-II
Horn in F I-II
Trombone
Euphonium
Tuba
String Bass
Harp
Timpani
Percussion, including:

  • Crash Cymbals
  • Glockenspiel
  • Marimba
  • Snare Drum, piccolo
  • Suspended Cymbal
  • Tom-Tom
  • Vibraphone


Errata

None discovered thus far.


Program Notes

Stereotypes can blind us to the potential not only of people but of instruments. Witness Ellen Taaffe Zwilich's intentions in composing her Concerto for Bassoon and Orchestra:

"In recent years I have composed a number of concertos for orchestral instruments ... Perhaps the most interesting aspect of writing a concerto for an instrument I do not play is the challenge of discovering and exploring the nature of the instrument, and trying to internalize its spirit, so that I feel my concerto issues from the 'soul' of the instrument itself. Particularly in the case of the bassoon (whose solo literature is limited, and whose orchestral use overemphasizes the 'comical' or grotesque qualities that are possible on the bassoon), I felt a mission to portray the instrument as it possibly can be, not as it is usually characterized."

Most bassoonists will agree that Zwilich achieved her aims in this concerto, composed for, dedicated to and premiered by Nancy Goeres with conductor Lorin Maazel and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. The first of the two unmarked movements opens in full dramatic mode, with brooding, Romantic melody on the strings accented by severe horns; in this context, the plangent timbre of the bassoon is a welcome relief, bringing a more song-like approach to the opening material. Percussion quickens the tempo for a faster middle section, based on a turn in the opening melody, and the bassoon interacts with the rest of the orchestra. But the return of the opening music emphasizes the bassoon's contrast with the orchestra even more, as short unaccompanied solos alternate with string outbursts before the bassoon settles everything gently down.

The percussion launches the second movement also, as the bassoon gets a chance to display the full range of its timbres and its ability to, in Zwilich's words, "suggest a single line breaking into multiple voices." This becomes especially apparent in a long cadenza, introduced by the first movement's melodic material, that requires every virtuoso technique a bassoon can handle. The quicksilver opening material returns to gradually decelerate and close the work.

- Program Note for orchestral version by Andrew Lindemann Malone for Allmusic


Commercial Discography

None discovered thus far.


State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


Performances

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Works for Winds by this Composer


Resources