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Track(s) taken from CDA67431/2

Bassoon Sonata in G major, Op 168


The Nash Ensemble
Studio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
Studio Master:
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Recording details: July 2004
Henry Wood Hall, London, United Kingdom
Release date: May 2005
Total duration: 11 minutes 58 seconds

Cover artwork: Afternoon in the Park by Hippolyte Petitjean (1854-1929)
Phillips Fine Art / Bridgeman Art Library, London

Other recordings available for download

Laurence Perkins (bassoon), Michael Hancock (piano)


'This is a set of sheer delight: let's hear it for imaginative conservatism' (Gramophone)

'Sheer delight' (Gramophone)

'These are full-blooded performances, packed with energy and colour, and every corner is turned under complete control' (BBC Music Magazine)

'It is repertoire that really shows up the ensemble's strengths and its ability to encompass the richest ensemble-playing, as well as the exposed solo work required of the accompanied sonata medium … there is plenty of mellifluously drawn melodic writing, playful harmonic twists and textural ingenuity to enjoy' (The Daily Telegraph)

'It is a charming collection, beautifully played; this is precisely the repertoire in which the Nash excels … The opening cantilena of the Oboe Sonata is positively rapturous … just as the mysterious fugal introduction to the finale of the early Piano Quintet [is] fabulously played by cellist Paul Watkins and violist Lawrence Power' (The Guardian)

'[The] Sonatas are all played with an ideal combination of infectious virtuosity and phrasal sensitivity to have these all-too-rarely heard works come dancing off the page. Sensational flautist Philippa Davies is on hand to add her own special brand of artistry … and producer Andrew Keener and engineer Simon Eadon typically capture the proceedings with their usual magical blend of warmth and clarity, making this an issue to cherish. The Nash Ensemble could hardly wish for a finer musical testimonial in this their fortieth birthday year' (International Record Review)

'A splendid two-disc set … mounted with that special sparkle they always bring to French repertoire' (The Times)

'A legend in his own lifetime, Saint-Saëns tantalises us with distinctive, lively and imaginative pieces, explored and played with terrific vivacity and style' (Classic FM Magazine)

'The Nash Ensemble, a British organisation that alters its makeup as the situation requires, has a long and distinguished history on record. This latest offering continues the tradition. Warmly recommended' (Fanfare, USA)
Saint-Saëns’s most durable contributions to the chamber literature have been his sonatas: two for violin and piano, two for cello and piano, and one each for oboe, clarinet and bassoon, each with piano accompaniment. It was during the last year of his life that Saint-Saëns conceived the idea of writing a sonata for each of the woodwind instruments, thus enhancing their repertoire and providing three monumental works for the sonata literature. Starting with Oboe Sonata in D major Op 166, dedicated to Louis Bas, an extraordinary oboe virtuoso, he continued with the Clarinet Sonata in E flat major Op 167, dedicated to Auguste Perier, a fine player of astonishing technique, and lastly, with the Bassoon Sonata in G major Op 168, written for Léon Letellier, the first bassoon of the Opéra and the Société des Concerts. Saint-Saëns had intended also to compose sonatas for flute and for cor anglais but he died before he was able to complete the project. In each sonata the piano is skilfully integrated with the wind instrument. The distinctive timbre and versatility of each instrument are expertly displayed. The spare, evocative, classical lines, haunting melodies, and superb formal structures underline these beacons of the neoclassical movement. Though the works were not performed during his lifetime, Saint-Saëns did have the satisfaction of knowing that the sonatas were approved by their dedicatees. Their importance in the woodwind repertoire cannot be exaggerated.

from notes by Sabina Teller Ratner © 2005

Les sonates furent les contributions les plus pérennes de Saint-Saëns à la littérature de chambre: il en composa deux pour violon et piano, deux pour violoncelle et piano, une pour hautbois, une pour clarinette et une pour basson – toutes trois avec accompagnement de piano. Ce fut dans la dernière année de sa vie qu’il conçut l’idée d’écrire une sonate pour chacun des instruments à vent en bois, ce qui étoffa leur répertoire et offrit à la littérature de la sonate trois monuments. La Sonate pour hautbois en ré majeur, op. 166, dédiée à l’extraordinaire hautboïste virtuose Louis Bas, fut suivie de la Sonate pour clarinette en mi bémol majeur, op. 167, dédiée à Auguste Perier (bon interprète, à la technique époustouflante), puis de la Sonate pour basson en sol majeur, op. 168, écrite pour Léon Letellier, premier basson de l’Opéra et de la Société des Concerts. Saint-Saëns avait aussi l’intention de composer des sonates pour flûte et pour cor anglais, mais la mort l’en empêcha. Dans chaque sonate, le piano est habilement intégré à l’instrument à vent, dont le timbre et la polyvalence sont montrés de manière experte. Les lignes classiques parcimonieuses, évocatrices, et les mélodies lancinantes, doublées de superbes structures formelles, rehaussent ces phares du mouvement néo-classique. Saint-Saëns ne vit jamais ces œuvres jouées de son vivant, mais il eut quand même la satisfaction d’apprendre qu’elles plurent à leurs dédicataires. On ne dira jamais assez leur importance dans le répertoire des bois.

extrait des notes rédigées par Sabina Teller Ratner © 2005
Français: Hypérion

Die langlebigsten Kammermusikwerke von Saint-Saëns sind seine Sonaten: er komponierte zwei für Violine und Klavier, zwei für Cello und Klavier und jeweils eine für Oboe, Klarinette und Fagott, jeweils mit Klavierbegleitung. Saint-Saëns hatte in seinem letzten Lebensjahr die Idee entwickelt, eine Sonate für jedes Holzblasinstrument zu schreiben, was das Repertoire für die drei Instrumente erweiterte und die Sonatenliteratur um drei monumentale Werke reicher machte. Als erstes komponierte er die Oboensonate in D-Dur op. 166, die er dem großen Oboenvirtuosen Louis Bas widmete, darauf die Klarinettensonate in Es-Dur op. 167, dem renommierten Klarinettisten Auguste Perier gewidmet, und schließlich die Fagottsonate in G-Dur op. 168 für Léon Letellier, der an der Opéra und in der Société des Concerts erstes Fagott spielte. Außerdem hatte Saint-Saëns eine Flötensonate und eine Sonate für Englischhorn geplant, doch starb er, bevor er seinen Sonatenzyklus abschließen konnte. In allen drei Sonaten ist die Klavierstimme auf kunstvolle Art mit dem Bläserpart verbunden. Das jeweilige Timbre und die Vielseitigkeit der drei Instrumente kommen in meisterhafter Weise zum Ausdruck. Die schlichten, sinnträchtigen, klassischen Melodien, schwermütigen Weisen und die hervorragenden formalen Strukturen untermauern diese Leitsterne der neoklassischen Bewegung. Obwohl die Werke nicht mehr zu seinen Lebzeiten aufgeführt wurden, so wusste Saint-Saëns doch wenigstens, dass ihre Widmungsträger sie schätzten. Ihre Bedeutung für das Holzbläser-Repertoire kann gar nicht hoch genug angesiedelt werden.

aus dem Begleittext von Sabina Teller Ratner © 2005
Deutsch: Viola Scheffel

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