The next stage on an exciting journey…

It’s just three weeks before a rather big event for me, which is the next stage in my ‘Voyage of a Sea-god’ recording project. On 3rd and 4th September I will be recording three bassoon concertos with the world-famous City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and conductor William Goodchild.

The music could hardly be more varied – first, we have a sunny piece written in 1933 by the Brazilian composer Villa-Lobos, infused with the essence of Brazilian folk music and culture. Then we move to England in 1952, and a Concertino by Elizabeth Maconchy (this will be the work’s first commercial recording) which partly looks back with a certain anguish at what had happened in the years preceding its composition, but also looks forward into the future with optimism and a sense of real fun. Finally, there is the Concerto by the Polish composer Andrzej Panufnik, written in 1984 during the height of ‘Solidarity’ – the fight for the rights of workers in Poland at that time. It was dedicated to the Polish priest who was murdered by the security forces there, and the music is to a certain extent impressionistic of that whole ghastly event – a very beautiful, powerful and expressive piece, quite unique in many ways.

So, what am I doing at this moment? Answer – sorting and adjusting reeds! There is if course a huge amount of practice going on as well, but – just as a singer’s voice has to be in top form to ensure a fine performance – so it is with the bassoon. The reed is the instrument’s voice-box, and the quality and nature of its response makes an enormous difference to the quality of the final performance. Each piece has its own specific technical demands, so it is vital that of the stock of reeds I have at the moment (around 100 of them) I select and carefully adjust the right ones for the tasks ahead. You will be able to tell me whether I chose the right ones when you hear the final recording! Hyperion will be releasing this (at the earliest) in Autumn next year, so don’t hold your breath just yet…

One thought on “The next stage on an exciting journey…

  1. Fascinating, admirable and inspiring. All the very best with the final preparations, the recording – and not forgetting the reds!


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