Bassoon Reed Importance on Performance

Bassoon Reed Importance on Performance


For bassoon players reed can be a real friend or an enemy. If the reed is suitable according to the piece or comfortable player will have much more pleasure and perform more musical and soulful.

In some problematic situations for instance loosing intonation, uncontrolled tonguing (too harsh or rhythmically wrong), having just an air sound when performer wants to enter the note softly in low register or the awful moment that the performer can not play the high note but sounds like a choking whale.
This week I will show the reed difference and importance by using three videos. In these videos I prefer the most important and crucial orchestral solos.

1st Shostakovich Symphony no: 9Op.70

Solo by Carlos Felipe Vina with Lynn Philharmonic Orchestra

In my opinion the tone color of Mr. Vina is really good but I prefer warmer color. Tone color differs according to the mouth position and reed. If the reed was scratched too much from the corners and hearth, it loses its core. In this video in 0:18 B flat is too high and this intonation problem is caused through the reed. The reed is probably scratched too much from the very edge. But thinner reed helps performer to play higher octaves more freely and easier so I think Mr. Vina preferred this reed for that reason because this solo need to be comfortable in high register especially for the beginning. In 0, 39 and 1, 41 the reed should have lighter sound for legato F-D flat and G- D. But his reed is too light for the staccato part in 2, 58. So the staccatos are not sounding boned and powerful. Short enough but the sound is small and coreless.

2nd Stravinsky Le Sacre Du Printemps

Solo by Gustavo Nunez with Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
The Adoration of the Earth movement begins with this crucial bassoon solo. According to some researchers Stravinsky wrote this solo specifically for bassoon and specifically that high C. That 4th C is one of the most uneasy and closed sounding notes of the bassoon and it tends to have “the wrong sound” like a rooster. Some contemporary music researchers and conductors want that rooster sound for an instant than the C note because it represents the humanity (In my opinion they prefer this sound to be against perfectionism, no human being can be Godly perfect!)
According to my tone color perception Gustavo Nunez has warmer tone but not darker. We can not criticize the tonguing flexibility of the reed because of the solo but in this recording Mr. Nunez also used a light reed which was scratched more than usual but he leaves the middle of the reed (the hearth) thicker. We can reach that result from the sound and legatos. Because of the right intonation I can say that he used a thicker (especially the corners and the edge) reed than Mr. Vina.


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