On tonight’s program you will hear a selection of pieces that inspired me greatly during my years at Bard. The first half of the program will focus on my hidden self of a bowless cellist, and on the second half you will hear five pieces that are inspired by something metaphysical, something from the Otherworld. I would like to thank all my teachers, my family, and my friends for supporting me throughout the past 10 years and helping me to become a bassoonist. I would also like to thank everyone who helped me with putting this recital together I am endlessly grateful to all of you!

I. Idenity Crisis

There is an expression in Hungarian about a honeyed string being dragged in front of one’s eyes. It is like irresistible bait, that will not let you go once you taste it. For me, this temptation was Bach. Even though I was not supposed to give in to the sweet treat, I have been chewing on that silly string ever since. The Prelude fromSuite III is a rather adventurous journey through the interior of the note C. The fall of the C major scale opens the door to a dreamlike world much like Narnia, filled with puzzles and riddles that the hero must solve in order to find the way out. After discovering the immediate surroundings of the home key, a hint of glorious C major throws the hero into a passionate roll of harmonic progression, leading to a prolonged dance across a tight-rope of the dominant pedal tone. This leads the hero to his way to the final episode that takes place in a dark forest where its easy to loose sight of ones path.

As translating great pieces of music for the bassoon became an obsession, it was unavoidable to indulge myself in late Beethoven eventually. Loosing his hearing brought the master an excuse to compose at a slower pace and thus release the full power of his artistic and creative talent in hallmark compositions like Symphony No.9, the Hammerklavier, the Grosse Fuge and his last Sonata for Cello and Piano. In the complex and highly emotional three-movement sonata hints of Bach’s influence are to be found beyond every phrase. Beethoven found comfort, inspiration and challenge in Bach music at this difficult time of his life. Shall we fuge?

II. Inspiration Beyond the Bow

It was exactly 99 years and 4 months ago that Pan’s song first escaped “from the hollow reeds.” If only Pan knew that he is building an instrument from the body of his beloved Syrinx, the nymph, who disguised herself as those reeds in order to hide from him and his affections. This melody of erotic seduction will get a more masculine tone tonight, ironically, escaping from my own love of hollow reeds, manicured into a piece of bassoon equipment. Sabrina Tabby and Sam McGaffin will guide us through the top of Act Three of Mourey’s Psyche, a drama for which Debussy originally composed this short piece as incidental music.

Like Chopin for the piano, Popper created an oeuvre of almost exclusively pieces for cello. I have many emotional connections to his Requiem, as it was one of the first pieces in which I could act as a real cellist, and was even surrounded by two of them on stage!

Singing was my closest connection to music until the age of 14, when I started playing the bassoon. I was lucky enough to grow up in a town that, among having top-notch choirs herself, was also flooded by the world’s most prominent choral ensembles competing for the European Grand Prix of Choral Singing every two years. However I have not been actively singing for a while, I felt obliged to remember on this occasion the beautiful years spent among 5 of my closest friends, AKA The Gastoldi Singers, by singing a couple of madrigals. The excellent Angela Carducci, Milena Gligić, Devony Smith, and Finnegan Shanahan will join me on stage to perform music from the very early 1600s: Hans Leo Hassler’s Ach Weh des Leiden and Adriano Banchieri’s Contrappunto Bestiale.

Antonio Vivaldi could have been holding a Guinness World Record for over 300 years now for the highest number of bassoon pieces composed with his 39 bassoon concerti (the most he had written for any instrument). Tonight’s Concerto in g minor (RV 495), the less popular of the two written in Vivaldi’s favorite tempestuous key, is a real gem.  Two surreally vigorous, almost boiling dance scenes frame the middle movement’s throbbing cry that is made even more tangible to the listener by keeping the g minor as its core key and the bass-heavy instrumentation. Exceptional amount of creative interpretation is a vital on the performer’s part to bring Vivaldi’s minimalistic scores alive, even in his always-virtuosic bassoon concerti.

© Charlotte Mandell 

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