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.
“The bassoon family” is a bassoon lesson that I teach when a student is in a slump. Too many weeks on etudes or a concerto often makes high schoolers lose interest. So I give them a contra lesson, or for the students that have lessons in my home, an introduction to the bassoon family. I have two high school seniors this year, and contrabassoon will definitely be a part of college orchestra playing.
The start of each lesson is playing through the circle of fifths, 12 major scales. This is a nice way to get into contrabassoon and introduce the vent keys and the Eb keys. The student can get a small taste of standard orchestra excerpts like the Contrabassoon solos written by Ravel in his Piano Concerto in G, and Ma Mère l’Oye. Contrabassoon comes quickly to many bassoonists, and Contraforte come quickly to bassoonists who also play sax. The simple octave keys on the Contraforte make it a closer match to high woodwinds.
It’s also interesting to introduce students to the Baroque bassoon. I make a point to have students learn a baroque piece every year, since honor orchestras and college auditions ask for pieces from contrasting eras. The basic scale of the baroque bassoon is the same as modern bassoon, so a few Vivaldi concertos translate well to the baroque bassoon. This also provides a useful insight into the instrument that the piece was written for, and how lucky we are to have a modernized bassoon.
The french bassoon is mostly for informational use. To learn the lowest octave chromatically and play a few scales. I don’t teach much French repertoire to high schoolers so it’s an instrument with no direct connection to their experiences. But I Play a few recordings of french bassoon players, explain the Paris Conservatory, and the school of French players that still exist throughout the world.
This fall I am returning to the San Francisco Conservatory of Music for a PSD (professional studies degree) in bassoon & contrabassoon. I am really excited to be studying with both Steve Paulson and Steve Braunstein and I think that my contrabassoon skill will increase significantly!
I am planning out a few recitals, and since this degree doesn’t require any academic requirements, I can program some difficult works. I haven’t decided on the order of the recitals yet but I have planned four recitals, two for fall and two for spring. So these are the possible programs in no particular order:
Paris Conservatory Commissions
Saint Saens sonata
Dutilleux Sarabande et Cortège
Villa Lobos (or just loosely South American themed)