Concerto for Bassoon and Orchestra (2001)

Programme Note: John Buckley

  1. Adagio - Moderato
  2. Adagio espressivo
  3. Allegro scherzando

Amongst my principal concerns in composing the concerto were maintaining a balance and dialogue between soloist and orchestra and creating clear formal structures. Each of the three movements has four main sections determined by the bassoon line and joined by short orchestral passages. The entire concerto grows from the opening bassoon motif, which in some guise or other is present throughout the work.

In the opening movement the bassoon melody emerges gradually from the shadowy shimmerings of cymbals and tamtam. After three attempts to become airborne this slow opening leads to a livelier and lighter main section. Here, the bassoon's dark rich timbre is contrasted with light delicate orchestration; the harp, celesta, glockenspiel, vibraphone and pizzicato strings being particularly important.

The slow second movement is characterised by long flowing bassoon lines woven through a fuller orchestral texture. These extended melodic lines occasionally burst into bravura flurries and are at other times punctuated by short three note fragments. At the end of the movement these fragments finally elicit a response from the two orchestral bassoons.

In the final movement, two fast sections linked with a timpani roll lead to the cadenza, which is itself in four main phrases. A final section, which fuses together the two opening ideas, brings the work to a vigorous conclusion.

The Concerto for Bassoon and Orchestra was commissioned by RTE and first performed in the National Concert Hall, Dublin on April 20th 2001 by Michael Jones and the RTE National Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Alexander Anissimov.