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EXPLORING MUSIC : Unfamiliar Fields

The MHS Review 375 Vol. 10, No. 15 • 1986

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David M. Greene


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I seem to remember from many years back an article that argued that more often than not the names of instrumentalists somehow suggested the instrument each had chosen for his own. One of the prime exhibits, says my memory (which at my time of life does odd things), was Fernand Oubradous. What else would someone whose surname was pronounced "oo-bra­DOO" play but a bassoon? M. Oubradous (b. 1903) was a pioneer on records, having recorded the two concerti ascribed to Mozart, and other solo works .. (He later gave up the bassoon for the baton and for composition and research.)

Looking at the list of bassoonists repre­sented on MHS records, one might agree that Prappacher and even Glickman bear out the theory. But it's hard to make any connection with the likes of Allard, Brown, Edminster, or Thompson. Or with Arthur Grossman, for that matter. Back in Oubradous' day, the names of very few bassoonists were known to a broad public Now, what with the record-buying crowd's insatiable demand for novelty, there are innumerable "name" bassoon­ists, but I doubt if any are better known or more respected than Mr. Grossman.

Born in New York City in 1934, he was something of a prodigy on his instrument, playing for four seasons with the Okla­homa City and San Antonio Symphonies from the age of 13, before enrolling in the Curtis Institute to study with Sol Schoen­bach. In 1961 he helped found the Soni Ventorum Quintet. Mr. Grossman has made recordings for a number of com­panies. Members of the Society will no doubt be familiar not only with the Soni Ventorum records it has published, but also with Mr. Grossman's exploration of the music of a number of little-known composers such as Selma y Salaverde, Galliard, Gebauer, Bozza, Weissenborn, Dubois, and Ronnes.

On the present record, as both soloi and in the new phonographic role of pe former-conductor, he continues to till u familiar fields. The earliest compose involved, Carl Almenraeder (1786-1843), · extremely important in the history of the bassoon. The son of a musician, he self-taught on several instruments and came a professional bassoonist. After number of very lean years he was b friended by a Gottfried Weber, a musician and acoustician, who was a court official in Mainz, and so found a place in the du theater orchestra.

In Mainz he had access to Schott's instrument manufactory and there developed the modern bassoon, which h began manufacturing in 1831 in partnership with the teenage ).A. Heckel. T business still flourishes. Almenraeder music went mostly unpublished. Th tuneful Pot-pourri (literally "rotten pot, named for a jar in which flower petals, were kept) is a typical romantic effusion

Henri van Praag, born 108 years later · Amsterdam, was another adept of several instruments, including jazz saxophone His one-movement Fantasie for basso and winds is conservative-modern. T Romanian Marcel Farago (b. 1924) is a cellist in the Philadelphia Orchestra, £; whose auditions he wrote the daunti solo fantasy on Paganini's familiar 24 Caprice.

Armin Schibler, a Swiss (b. 1920), was one time fairly well known. Later played footsie with the serialists, thou his Monologe seems untainted. Jurriaan Andriessen is the elder (b. 192 5) of the t sons and pupils of the Dutch compo: Hendrik Andriessen, and is known chic for his stage, film, and television work. Concertina dates from 1963.

Review of The Art of the Bassoon

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