This past weekend the Columbus Symphony performed the Beethoven Overture to Leonore No. 2, the Jonathan Leshnoff Double Concerto for Violin and Viola, and Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 6. The Columbus Dispatch published this review of the concert.
The Leonore Overture No. 2 differs considerably from the better known Leonore Overture No. 3 and features many exposed bassoon parts. One to be aware of is the following, which must be double tongued due to the tempo:
Composer Jonathan Leshnoff was in Columbus for the rehearsals and performances of his Double Concerto for Violin and Viola (2007) featuring our concertmaster, Chas Wetherbee and violist Roberto Diaz. The two soloists were a perfect match, and the composer was clearly pleased. Chas is a sought-after soloist who never fails to endear his audience, and Roberto Diaz won everyone over with his incredible Amati viola- what an awesome sound!
The Leshnoff featured some tricky tonguing passages for the first bassoon, such as this one in the second movement:.
I began preparing for Tchaikowsky Symphony no. 6 last week, even though last week was also a big bassoon solo week (Firebird). I started searching for the reed I'd use for the opening of the symphony, and I took the reeds which seemed like viable candidates to the hall to test them there.
In the past, I've always used old reeds for the opening solo. I expected to do the same this time, but much to my surprise, i ended up using a new reed. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that I'm playing on a new 15,000 series Heckel- I suppose it's possible that new bassoons favor new reeds.
The winning reed had the quality which was my top priority: reliable response on low E. This reed was so reliable that it shocked me each time we started the symphony in rehearsals and concerts!
To prepare the solo, I used my electronic keyboard to play a drone on the low E and B with which the string basses begin the movement. That way, I become totally accustomed to playing that low E in tune.
One of the challenges of this solo for me is dealing with the A#2 in bar 4:
During the actual solo, I began the A# with no vibrato, then started the crescendo and increasingly added vibrato leading to the tonic B2.
The bore of the new Heckels is larger than that of the older bassoons. Because of that, my bassoon requires more air in the low range and I have to breathe accordingly. As long as the breaths are quick and efficient, I do not think they interfere with the melodic line.
I have never had to play these famous 4 notes in bar 160 of the 1st movement:
In my opinion, the 4th movement bassoon unisons are really good audition material for any bassoon position:
Beginning in bar 21, though, the bassoons are alone, in unison with each other. Dynamics are critical to this passage, and of course, dynamics are challenging for bassoonists to exaggerate. And intonation and ensemble must match! The reason I consider the above passage to be great for auditions is because it is a great test of intonation, dynamic contrast, matching tone qualities from note to note, and melodic line.
Here is the audio stream of the Columbus Symphony's concert performed last Saturday.
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