Mozart: Bassoon Concerto in B-flat major, K. 191/186e

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Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756 – 1791)
Bassoon Concerto in B-flat major, K. 191/186e

Lakeview Orchestra will perform Mozart’s Bassoon Concerto in B-flat major on Tuesday, March 19th at 7:30PM at the Athenaeum Theatre.

Mozart’s first documented concerto for a wind instrument, the Bassoon Concerto in B-flat major, is the only surviving bassoon concerto of the five concertos that he wrote. It is a sad truth that many works from well-known and revered composers simply did not survive, for reasons including delinquent publishers, misplaced files, and cursory accounting by major patrons such as the church and state. We should be eternally grateful that this beautiful work featuring the often-overlooked member of the wind section did survive. Not only does the piece showcase the technical and artistic capabilities of the bassoon, but it is also the most frequently performed work for bassoon.

The bassoon was already a well-established solo instrument in the Baroque period, having inspired Antonio Vivaldi (1678 – 1741) to write no fewer than 39 concertos for bassoon. Nevertheless, its prominence as a featured soloist had waned by the start of the Classical period. It is possible that Mozart wrote this concerto in part to revitalize the bassoon’s contribution to the orchestral fabric. Written when Mozart was only 18 years of age, this concerto reveals the impressively mature and developed thought he put into the score. The main thematic material of the concerto is carefully designed expressly for the bassoon, showcasing its unique qualities and disguising its limits in power and range. Additionally, the concerto possesses the quintessential Mozart characteristics of wit and charm. Although the original score is lost, we do know that Mozart completed the work on June 4, 1774. Further, it is believed that aristocratic amateur bassoonist Baron Thaddäus von Dürnitz (1756 – 1807) commissioned the concerto. Baron von Dürnitz possibly commissioned as many as 70 works from Mozart, including some of the lost Mozart bassoon concertos.

Following the traditional standard for a concerto of the Classical period, the work is set in three movements. The first movement, Allegro, is in the expected sonata form. Beginning with a dramatic entry of the orchestra, followed by the entrance of the soloist, this movement highlights the bassoon’s many virtues, including its extraordinary agility and the ability to trill, leap (nearly two octaves), repeat notes rapid-fire, sing lyrically, and sit comfortably on prominent low notes. The interaction with the orchestra is lively and conversational. The second movement, Andante ma Adagio, is a dreamy aria, with an elaborately embroidered melody over muted strings, showcasing a soft, lyrical singing voice. In contrast to the preceding two movements, the finale, Rondo: tempo di menuetto, is a dance. Set in the style of a minuet, the melody is based on the lilting rhythms of the standard courtly dance, constantly changing between the original theme of the movement and virtuosic variations performed by the soloist.

Lakeview Orchestra will perform Mozart’s Bassoon Concerto in B-flat major on March 19th, 2019: Learn More or Get Tickets

Program Notes by Luke Smith.

Luke Smith