Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Bassoon Concerto
Composed in 1774, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Bassoon Concerto is a staple in bassoon repertory. Written when Mozart was just 18 years old, the concerto was the first he wrote for a woodwind instrument. The bassoon gained much popularity in the 16th century, with composers such as Antonio Vivaldi really exploring the instrument through the concerto genre.
Set into three movements, Mozart utilises the classical structure for a concerto.
Movement I – Allegro
An extended orchestral introduction opens the sonata-form first movement. As the bassoon enters with the main theme, the strings drop right back into the background. The athletic bassoon part jumps between octaves, using fast tonguing to produce clear scalic runs. At important points of the melody, the bassoon and orchestra unite to play the melody, before going their separate ways again. Mozart experiments with intense dynamics which give some real excitement to the concerto. After a thorough development section, the bassoon enters a virtuosic cadenza. The movement concludes with a short orchestral excerpt.
Movement II – Andante ma Adagio
The gentle orchestral opening sets the scene for this lyrical middle movement. The bassoon part starts in its upper range, creating a delicate sound that sits on top of the orchestra. The main theme from this movement was also used in the aria Porgi, Amor, in Mozart’s opera Le nozze di Figaro. The interplay between the strings and bassoon creates nuanced call and response figures that sweep across the ensemble. The sensitivity in Mozart’s handling of the often comedic instrument, makes this movement one of the highlights of the concerto.
Movement III – Rondo: Tempo di menuetto
The rondo finale starts with another orchestra introduction. The heaviness of the theme keeps the tempo restrained somewhat, until the bassoon enters with its light and quick melody. A real showpiece, the finale challenges the soloists flexibility and dexterity, as quick scalic runs and large interval jumps plague the part. The memorable theme is passed between soloist and orchestra which leads to the thrilling final few bars.
Ⓒ Alex Burns
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