Published: December 21, 2011

Originally Published By: Fanfare Magazine

Classical Reviews – Instrumental
Written by Jeremy Marchant Fanfare Magazine
Wednesday, 21 December 2011

BASSOON AND FRIENDS • Paula Brusky (bsn); BCMCC Ch Players • MSR MS1367 (60:32)
BARTZ Concertino. NIELSON What About You? A. GOTTSCHALK American Nights. CWIK 8 Miniatures
These four pieces are the prizewinners of the first Bassoon Chamber Music Composition Competition, founded by the enterprising Paula Brusky, who plays the pieces on this disc.

American Nights for bassoon, violin, and piano by Arthur Gottschalk is the longest work on the disc, three movements running seven to eight minutes each. “Hopper” is cool and “informed by the paintings of Edward Hopper,” but the bassoon doubles the violin almost continuously to the point where it becomes oppressive. The second movement, “Kerouac,” more whimsical and lively, is a relief. Suggested by an (undisclosed) incident in On the Road , the interplay between the three instruments is finely balanced and handled, the bassoon entirely at home (why would one think otherwise?). The last movement, inspired by a poem (again undisclosed) by Peter Joseph, is different again: impassioned solos and discursive tuttis.

Stefan Cwik’s 8 Miniatures for Chamber Ensemble (Hommage à Igor Stravinsky) rings the changes: eight, as you would imagine, little exercises, each embodying a different characteristic of Stravinsky’s chamber music style. Enjoyable enough, but Stravinsky they ain’t. These are real hostages to fortune; Cwik is most successful when he is least like Stravinsky, otherwise he comes over as a pasticheur, doomed to come in second in any comparison, however unintended. The bassoon, flute, violin, and piano combination is attractive and the flute provides the necessary cutting edge in the wind sound palette so far missing. If playing the CD through, I would play this work third as an intermezzo before the Gottschalk.

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