Notes and Editorial Reviews
This is a hybrid Super Audio CD playable on both regular and Super Audio CD players.
Trio for 2 Violas and Cello
Island (period instruments)
38 040 (Hybrid multichannel SACD: 64:42)
Island is a period-instrument ensemble that specializes in music for bassoon, two violas, and cello—not as obscure a combination as you might expect. The two quartets on this disc by Franz Krommer (1759–1831), a woodwind specialist, deploy the ensemble very effectively. Bassoonist Jane Gower provides this description in her good liner notes: “As all of Krommer’s superlative wind music, the quartets Op. 46 are highly instrumentally idiomatic and often virtuosic. They exploit the full three-octave range of the period bassoon to dramatic effect, use a full palette of tonal colors and textures, and feature many different effects at which the bassoon excels: running staccato figures, wide intervallic leaps, as well as soaring tenor cantabile lines.” These compositions are equivalent to the
of the period, associated with the likes of Viotti and Spohr, with its flashy writing for first violin. Here, though, the bassoon takes the principal role, without forcing the other instruments to fall into neglect; the first viola’s part is nearly as demanding as the bassoon’s.
The better-known Johann Nepomuk Hummel wrote a fairly popular bassoon concerto, but that reed instrument is absent from the trio at hand; the unusual two-viola plus cello scoring seems to be authentic. Typically for this composer, it’s a light, enjoyable work, with Mozart quotations in the finale.
I’ve not heard the competing recordings of this music, but Island’s accounts complement the scores perfectly: secure and good-natured despite the inherently dark instrumental coloring. The musicians demonstrate that period instruments need not produce scrawny tone, and their blending of lines is very good, even though the aural perspective is close for the strings, while the bassoon seems to be a bit more distant and positioned toward the right. That noted, the DSD audio quality is as fine as it should be, and this disc will serve you well if you’re interested in the period or the bassoon.
FANFARE: James Reel
Works on This Recording
Trio for Piano and Strings in G major, Op. 35 by Johann Nepomuk Hummel
Jane Gower (Bassoon),
Jennifer Morsches (Cello),
Galina Zinchenko (Viola),
Antoinette Lohmann (Violin)
Written: by 1811; Eszterhazá, Hungary
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