for bassoon and wind ensemble

Program Notes

  1. Scherzino
  2. Arioso
  3. Toccatta quasi perpetuum mobile
  4. Marcia funebre
  5. Tarantella

This five-movement concertino was composed for, and is dedicated to, my wife, Rebecca Jemian. It was specifically written for her to perform with the University of Louisville Wind Ensemble, directed by Frederick Speck, during the UofL annual new music festival in the fall of 1999.

The five short movements explore a variety of moods and textures, although the overall character is on the light side-even the slow movements are not too serious. The solo bassoon shares the spotlight a good deal of the time; the wind ensemble does a great deal more than just accompany.

The first movement, Scherzino, alternates between two principal ideas: one that is angular and somewhat humorous, and a more lyrical one. The Arioso further explores the lyrical side of the bassoon, and also contains a dramatic recitative-like middle section.

The last three movements are all based, to varying extents, on famous licks from the orchestral bassoon repertory. Some are disguised, some are blatant. I will leave it to the performers and listeners to identify them; I don’t want to spoil the fun.

The third movement is fast and spiky, with a reprise of the lyrical tune from the first movement. The fourth is a mock-serious funeral march in which two famous borrowed tunes are played by the brass in mensuration canons (a sort of round in which two or more parts present the same material, but beginning at different times and using different durations). These canons take place over ostinato patterns of differing lengths in the percussion. The bassoon wails away over all of this and plays a cadenza at the movement’s climax, with the percussion continuing on obliviously underneath. A brief coda leads without pause to the last movement.

The finale is a lively Tarantella (an Italian dance named for the tarantula; it was thought that wild dancing would cure the victims of its bite). It contains a reference to perhaps the best-known bassoon solo of all, done very much tongue-in-cheek.

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