Emerging Young Musicians Shine at Wigmore Hall

United KingdomUnited Kingdom Mozart, Panufnik, Schubert, Françaix: Amy Harman (bassoon); Castalian String Quartet [Sini Simone and Daniel Roberts (violins), Charlotte Bonneton (viola), Christopher Graves (cello]; Laurène Durantel (double bass) Wigmore Hall, London. 7.2.2017. (LB)

Mozart (arr. Farrington) – Sonata for bassoon and cello in B flat K.292
Roxanna Panufnik – Cantator and Amanda (2011) for bassoon and string quartet
Schubert (arr. Farrington) –  Romanza (from Rosamunde) D797, Nacht und Träume D827, Die Forelle Op.32
Françaix – Divertissement for bassoon and string quintet

The Young Classical Artists Trust, a charity formed in 1984, is dedicated to identifying and building the careers of promising emerging artists through the provision of sustained guidance and artistic management over a period of years. Today’s lunchtime concert, presented at Wigmore Hall, was devoted to showcasing the talents of the bassoonist Amy Harman, along with the Castalian Quartet, and the double bassist Laurène Durantel, in a lively programme of music by Mozart, Panufnik, Schubert and Françaix

Their performance began with Mozart’s Sonata for bassoon and cello, but in an arrangement by Iain Farrington for solo bassoon, with violin, viola and cello. The rationale for transcribing what was intended as a dialogue between solo instruments into a quartet for solo bassoon with the accompaniment of strings escapes me, since there are already many excellent original compositions in this genre.That Mozart’s sonata contains exquisitely charming material is beyond doubt, and this three-movement work proved to be a suitable vehicle for Amy Harman’s eloquent mastery of the bassoon, as well as for her confident musicianship, with members of the Castalian Quartet providing alert, stylish and sensitive accompaniment.

Roxanna Panufnik’s Cantator and Amanda for bassoon with string quartet was originally composed for the distinguished British bassoonist Julie Price and the Wihan Quartet, and it is a ravishing and compelling work that expertly exploits the communicative power of the bassoon. The piece illuminates the tale of the ill-fated love affair between a fourteenth-century monk in Rye, and a local ‘girl’, Amanda. A plaintive bassoon solo sets proceedings in motion, and Roxanna Panufnik’s music is exceedingly tender and evocative as the couple’s love blossoms. Following their failed attempt to elope however, the music becomes increasingly anguished and desperate as the hapless Cantator loses his mind and life, bricked up alive in the Friary walls, with a poignant bassoon solo that depicts the death of Amanda from a broken heart, concluding proceedings.

Next came three of Schubert’s songs, cleverly arranged for bassoon and string quintet by Iain Farrington, with the addition of some very stylish double bass playing from Laurène Durantel providing a welcome new dimension to proceedings.

A mere 20 years after his death, Jean Françaix’s music has inexplicably fallen out of favour, and it was very satisfying to hear his effervescent Divertissement for bassoon and string quintet. Françaix’s music is as much fun to play as it to listen to, and the ensemble brought a real sense of hustle and bustle to proceedings, judiciously exploiting the wit and exuberance that infuses the music. They also navigated the many rhythmic landmines with great aplomb, exuding an air of nonchalance

Françaix concludes his divertissement with a tweet of delight from the solo bassoon, and today this delightful tweet signalled the end of a successful lunchtime concert for all the participants, with the bassoon having found a worthy champion in Amy Harman.

Leon Bosch

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