The two compositions for bassoon and orchestra by Carl Maria von Weber stand out in a century when very little bassoon solo repertoire emerged, unlike the eighteenth or twentieth centuries. The Andante e Rondo Ungarese
, Op 35 was written in response to the success of his Bassoon Concerto Op 75, and was requested by the bassoonist in the Munich Orchestra, Georg Friedrich Brandt. It is in fact a reworking of an earlier composition—it began life as a viola solo with orchestra, written for the composer’s brother. Weber’s modifications for the bassoon version are mainly in the solo part, but the character of the work remains essentially the same. The Andante is a rather plaintive theme in C minor, followed by three variations. In the first, the bassoon provides an accompaniment to a two-part version of the theme on violins alone. The second variation moves into the relative major key of E flat, and in the final variation the bassoon assumes a virtuoso obbligato role with strings and woodwind providing a richly orchestrated version of the melody. A dramatic link leads us directly into the Rondo Ungarese
, which is Hungarian in flavour only, largely through the rhythms in the solo line and accompaniment. As always, lyricism is never far away, but virtuosity wins the day and the work concludes with a spectacular final flourish for the soloist.
from notes by Laurence Perkins © 2002