"Album of the week" in The Times newspaper
No. 4 in the U.K. Specialist Classical Charts
Released on 2nd July 2021, 'Voyage of a Sea-god' is a 2-CD set presenting a musical journey through the 20th century, with links to some of the key historic events during that exciting and turbulent period.
"It's an extensive programme, encompassing a variety of styles ... there are some real treats"
Daniel Jaffé, BBC Music Magazine
"Laurence Perkins was ideally placed to have created this anthology with 'the bassoon leading a musical journey through the 20th century' ... an engaging guide throughout, Perkins gets sterling support from a wealth of fine musicians and ensembles"
Richard Whitehouse, Gramophone
"Laurence Perkins is not like any other professional bassoonist ... perhaps he is unique as an inspiring advocate of the bassoon, doing more than anyone else to promote and expose the instrument to the general public."
Roger Birnstingl (former principal bassoon, London Symphony Orchestra) Double Reed News
"Beginning in 1900 with Richard Henry Walthew and ending in 1999 with David Bedford, the intrepid musical journey undertaken by Laurence Perkins and friends celebrates the extraordinary versatility of the twentieth century bassoon ... Bax’s 1936 Threnody and Scherzo for bassoon, harp and string sextet, is a wonderfully scored imaginative work that has the makings of a concerto ... The disc ends in 1999 with the imaginative and much missed David Bedford’s solo work Dreams of Stac Pollaidh. The inspiration for this piece ... is Stac Pollaidh the mountain itself, and the Scottish pibroch, beloved of Highland bagpipers. The gentle dream-like work provides an elegant and poignant end to the programme."
Paul RW Jackson, British Music Society
"It's a really enjoyable chronological tour of the 20th century bassoon"
Andrew McGregor, BBC Radio 3 Record Review
Discover 'Voyage of a Sea-god' on this video sampler
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.
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.
A huge 'thank you' to all of you who have supported this project, both financially and in many other ways as well. It would not have happened without your help and support!
People who contributed financially towards the 'Sea-god' recording project:
Mike and Carolyn Bell
Jendy and Peter Bullman
David and Sheila Cook
The Cress family
Tim and Ceri Dornan
Mavis and Len Fletcher
Cat (Catherine) Gallagher
Graham and Dagmar Grafton
Pip and David Hassell
Linda and John Leggat
Chris and Maggie Manvell
Keith and Liz Marjoram
Bill and Mary Massey
Toby and Sarah Miller
Douglas G Moran
Hugh David Rosenbaum
Malcolm and Margaret Summers
Theresa and Raymond Tallis
Lucy and Steve Tanser
Alastair Watson and Mary Jane Platt
John and Pam Woodward