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Bassoon Concerto '2004 revised version'

composer
premiered in 1999; revised in 2004

 
It is a long time ago now, when I first put pen to paper (or more accurately cursor to computer screen, as it was even then in 1996!) and started work on a Bassoon Concerto for Sigyn Birkeland. The idea was to use a microphone and amplification system on the Bassoon in order to be able to open up the orchestration. This worked well enough for the recording we made in 1999, but for live performance it was, frankly, a mistake. Time passed and when, almost a decade later, the opportunity presented itself to re-orchestrate the piece for a new recording, I grabbed at it. Some decisions about resizing and reconforming the piece were easy, some less so, but any regrets in that area were overridden by my wish to make the piece more accessible and, quite simply, performable. Some sections have been re-written to make sense of the smaller ensemble, and some have been re-written because they had always troubled me a little in terms of their musical content as well as their function in the overall shape and architecture. Whilst much still remains the same, I think it also has the feel of an entirely different piece, and as such I don’t wish one to replace the other. They are rather like non-identical twins!

I would also like to say this: the events of 13th March 1996 affected me more than any other public tragedy or disaster had before or since, probably because at the time I had a four-year-old son of my own and found myself strongly identifying with the parents of Dunblane. I was in the middle of writing my Bassoon Concerto and was just starting work on the second movement. I know now that the music began to reflect my state of mind: the brooding Scottish landscape; the lone piper on the hill; the innocent children being taken away (a theme I would return to in my Flute Concerto: The Pied Piper of Hamelin). And finally the image that haunted me most of all: the bereft mother.

It would be quite wrong to describe my Bassoon Concerto as being inspired by the events of that day and it is certainly not 'about' them. The first movement, after all, was already written, and the last is a party. It is just that Dunblane changed me, and therefore some of this piece changed too, behind my back as it were. I mention it simply because the subject still seems to infect almost everything I do. I often think about the implications of that day and what it means to be a human being: some people leave, and some people stay behind to remember their leaving.

from notes by Stephen Frost © 2011

Recordings

Frost & Karlsen: Bassoon Concertos
SIGCD258Download only

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