The 'Sea-god' recording project is forging ahead!
Mercifully, all the recording sessions were completed just before the pandemic started, and the latest news is that this recorded set will be released by Hyperion in June this year (2021 - exact date to be confirmed).
A huge 'thank you' to all of you who have supported this project in so many ways. Please keep an eye on this webpage for updates.
Walthew, Richard: Introduction and Allegro for bassoon and piano  [world première recording]
Prokofiev: Sergei: Humorous Scherzo for four bassoons 
Saint-Saens, Camille: Sonata for bassoon and piano, Op.168 
Bantock, Granville: Lament and Dance of the Witches from 'Macbeth’, for three bassoons  [world première recording]
Bax, Sir Arnold: Threnody and Scherzo for bassoon, string sextet and harp 
Hindemith, Paul: Sonata for bassoon and piano 
Dutilleux, Henri: Sarabande et Cortège for bassoon and piano 
Howells, Herbert: Minuet - Grace for a Fresh Egg for bassoon and piano 
Maconchy, Elizabeth: Concertino for bassoon and string orchestra  [world première recording]
Ridout, Alan: Caliban and Ariel for solo bassoon  [world première recording]
Panufnik, Andrzej: Concerto for bassoon and small orchestra (1985)
Bennett, Richard Rodney: Sonata for bassoon and piano  [world première recording]
Bedford, David: Dreams of Stac Pollaidh for unaccompanied bassoon  [world première recording]
Laurence Perkins (bassoon)
The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra conducted by William Goodchild
The Carducci String Quartet, with Suzie Meszaros (viola), Michael Escreet (double bass) and Eira Lynn Jones(harp)
Michael Hancock (piano)
Catriona McDermid, Matthew Kitteringham and Amy Thompson (bassoons)
Recording producer: Andrew Keener
Sound engineer: Simon Eadon
Description of the project
(notes by Laurence Perkins)
It was in the 20th century that composers finally woke up to the real qualities of the bassoon and its wonderful expressive range. The instrument’s sound, described by Sacheverell Sitwell as “like a sea-god speaking”, was used and explored as never before, in new and highly imaginative ways. My recording project is a celebration of some of the music from that vibrant century which features the bassoon either as a soloist or in a prominent role, including major works not previously recorded commercially (indicated by an asterisk * below).
The music forms a chronological journey, starting with the late-Victorian melodic elegance of *Richard Walthew (1900), with Prokofiev adding a dark humour (1912), and Saint-Saens looking back to romantic and classical influences (1921). There’s a strong British presence, including music by Arnold Bax (1936), Herbert Howells (1945) and *Elizabeth Maconchy’s wonderfully lyrical and virtuosic Concertino (1952), while *Alan Ridout creates wonderfully evocative Shakespearean images in music inspired by ‘The Tempest’ (1975). There are powerful expressions of anger and deep sorrow in Panufnik’s music (1985) reflecting events in Poland at that time, off-set by a gentle and highly original sound-world created by *Richard Rodney Bennett (1991). The final piece is an extraordinary 4-minute tone poem for solo bassoon by *David Bedford (1999), inspired by a Scottish mountain.
To my knowledge, a recorded anthology of this kind, presenting more than two hours of bassoon music in a compelling musical journey through an entire century, is unique. The project will go a long way towards my life ambition - better recognition and appreciation of the special musical qualities of the bassoon. It involves collaborations with some of the finest ensembles and musicians, all working with a world-class production team, and the finished recording is to be released by one of the world’s leading classical labels - Hyperion. This is truly a life investment - a very special musical legacy for years to come.
Below are two photographs from the sessions in September 2019 with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra conducted by William Goodchild, recording the Concerto by Andrzej Panufnik. Photographs by Clare Glenister.