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Bassoon Sonata in F


The story of William Martin Yeates Hurlstone is rather sad. Born in London in 1876, he was something of a musical child prodigy and, at the age of eighteen, he won a scholarship to the Royal College of Music to study composition with Stanford. He was also a brilliant pianist and appeared as soloist in his own Piano Concerto at St James's Hall in 1896. He was appointed Professor of Counterpoint at the Royal College, but it was a post that he was not able to hold for long for he suffered from acute bronchial asthma and died in London in 1906, aged just thirty. Nevertheless, he left us with a legacy of fine compositions including a considerable quantity of Chamber music. Unfortunately, Hurlstone's music has received scant attention over the years, not least his Sonata for bassoon and piano (here receiving its first commercial recording) which was out of print for a long time until Emerson Edition had the enterprise to reprint is recently. Originally published in 1904, it was dedicated to a well-known bassoonist of the time, Edward Dubrucq.

As one might expect, the piano part in this Sonata is substantial. But the same can also be said of the bassoon part—not particularly in terms of virtuoso writing but more in the exploration of the bassoon's expressive range. A cheerful mood prevails throughout most of the first movement which begins with a lively 6/8 melody on the bassoon, contrasted by a change to 2/4 time for the second subject, a lyrical theme shared by piano and bassoon. The second movement, a Ballade, takes us into very different waters: the cheerfulness of the first movement is almost entirely forgotten and, lyrical though the thematic material is, there is an underlying tension giving the music a strange and powerful character. The third movement, a waltz-like Allegretto, dispels this mood somewhat, but not entirely since the final movement opens with a fragment of the second movement's initial theme, this time on solo bassoon in the low register. Even when this dark introduction gives way to a sprightly Vivace, there are still traces of the second movement's thematic material, now transformed into a much brighter character than before. A final brief Animato, a brilliant flourish on the piano, and the work comes to a joyous conclusion.

from notes by Laurence Perkins © 1981


L'Après-midi d'un dinosaur
CDH88035Archive Service


Movement 1: Vivace
Movement 2: Ballade: Moderato, ma sempre a piacere
Movement 3: Allegretto
Movement 4: Moderato – Vivace

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