The most difficult bassoon concerto of the repertoire by A. Jolivet

André Jolivet (1905-1974) is a French composer. “Jolivet’s music draws on his interest in acoustics and atonality as well as both ancient and modern influences in music, particularly on instruments used in ancient times. He composed in a wide variety of forms for many different types of ensembles.” If we talk about his bassoon concerto, I think that it is one of the hardest concertos in our repertory. In 20th century there were many bassoon compositions such as concertos, sonatas or solo bassoon works but most notable piece is Jolivet’s concerto because of its virtuosity. It has 4 movements, but we see two main movements actually because the titles of the movements are 1a, 1b, 2a and 2b. If I look at the history of this concerto, he composed it in 1954 for the bassoon competition at the Paris Conservatory. For this reason, he preferred to include many difficult passages. I think it has the highest musicality and expressive phrasing, accurate articulation and intonation fluency and mastery of all technical difficulties, from brave leaps to extreme registers. “Nevertheless, Jolivet’s concerto is not a dry, pedagogic compendium but a witty work, original in structure, whose two parts are constructed on the principle of a slow introduction and a fast main movement. A recitative with Wagnerian overtones introduces the soloist as a strong musical orator, while the Allegro gioviale with its harsh piano sound, recalling Shostakovich, surprises by its rhythmic vitality. A largo overcast with melancholy then serves as prelude to the fugal finale, which with thoroughly non academic irony returns to the ashen transparent sound of the Allegro.” (summary of the program notes)

Source:

1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andr%C3%A9_Jolivet

2. Program notes by Dag Jensen in the CD-publication “20th Century Bassoon Concertos: Villa-Lobos – Hindemith – Jolivet – Gubaidulina” Label: Capriccio, Catalog Number: CAP67139

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