Keyed Kontraptions was the ensemble in residence at the University of California Davis Music Department 2019-2020. The residency and concert was originally scheduled to take place in April but due the the pandemic it was postponed.
Last month UC Davis was able to set up a system of low latency audio/video which allowed us to be in separate rooms but play together. This worked great and allowed us to record the concert!
This is my arrangement of Symphony Fantastique movement 4, March to the Scaffold. This contains a passage which is one of our great bassoon excerpts, originally it’s for the entire bassoon section to play as a 4 player soli. But I set it here as 3 bassoons 1 contra with the other parts playing the pizz. string lines. I think that this arrangement would also work if played on all bassoons without contras.
Heitor Villa-Lobos wrote a series of 9 suites inspired by the composition style and harmonic procedures of JS Bach. Each of them is set with a different instrumentation and include traditional Brazilian folk tunes as well as popular melodies from 1930-1940.
Number 5 is for soprano and an orchestra of cellos. The original cello parts are divided into 4 cello parts with 2 players playing each part. In my video I stop before the middle section (because I didn’t want to deal with looping myself tempo changes)
Die Moldau by Bedrich Smetana represents a river that flows through Prague. It’s in compound meter and has sixteenth notes running constantly in the accompaniment parts, which gives the piece a flowing feeling. I set the viola line into the bassoon 3 part which is pretty busy but fun.
The ‘big melody’ of this movement is a tune called “La Mantovana” dating from the sixteenth century. It has been used in many pieces, my favorite being Hatikvah which is the national anthem of Israel.
The PDF of my bassoon quintet arrangement is here:
Dvorak’s Serenade for winds is a piece that doesn’t get programmed enough. There is a whole catalogue of repertoire for large wind chamber ensembles that mostly goes unplayed, this work is one that gets a little more attention.
There are two passages of running sixteenth notes which originally trade off between bassoon, cello, and clarinet. I changed the voicing of this material to make it more bassoonable.
This Violin concerto by Vivaldi is well known and gets a lot of air time especially in commercials. I thought that it would be funny to set for bassoon quartet since the bassoon has a specific kind of dry articulation. There are some measures cut from the original to make it more bassoon friendly.