Bravura Discs CD-111
Throughout his career, Vancouver bassoonist Jesse Read has been a man of many talents. He has served as principal bassoon of the Vancouver Opera Orchestra, chair of the Music Department at the University of British Columbia, as skillful conductor of the UBC Orchestra, and of course, a bassoonist of exceptional skill who has performed all over the world. This beautiful CD proves his bassoon prowess beyond the shadow of a doubt!
Performing throughout without accompaniment, he begins brilliantly with the J.S. Bach Partita in A minor BWV 1013, which is normally performed on the flute. With flute-like clarity of technique, he dances his way through the four movements with such facility, that one would almost be lead to believe that he either has secret "extra keys" on his bassoon or a third hand! Besides this, he plays many of the passages an octave higher when compared to the performances of this work by other bassoonists, which has him playing in the high register quite often.
But ah, he is just getting started! Next is a sparkling Fantasie No. 1, op. 38 by German/Danish composer Friedrich Kuhlau (1776-1832) again a work written for the flute by the composer who is often called the "flautists' Beethoven." Once again with incredible speed, which however never loses its clarity or buoyant quality, he dances on. The breath support is also very impressive. Using what must be circular breathing Jesse spins out technical phrases that never seem to end! This is the first of three Fantasies by Kuhlau on this CD. Each one has a second movement with variations based on a well-known melody usually by Mozart.
Turning from the compositions written for flute, Jesse next performs the first two of seven Etudes by Bernhard Garfield (#5-Longing, and #3 Allegretto) composed by the former principal of the great Philadelphia Orchestra and teacher to a full generation of today's most well-known bassoonists. These were picked from the 30 (and growing) Etudes that Mr. Garfield has composed so far.
The Kuhlau Fantasie #2 follows. Similar to #1, it sounds actually "easy" in Jesse's deft hands! Three more Etudes by Garfield are next (#14 Celebration, #10 Dreaming, and#2 Milde Remembered), once more beautifully interpreted, then Kuhlau #3 and Garfield #13 Theme and variations on a friendly home-made theme, and #15 Scherzo giocoso bring the CD to the final work.
This is Qual Cor Tradisti-Variationi sur un tema di Bellini, by Giulio Briccialdi (1818-1881) which consists of the Aria followed by 4 Variations-a real showpiece.
Wow! This is one fine CD! In so many ways, both technical and musical, this is an absolute "tour de force". I can't possibly recommend it strongly enough. In many ways it reminds me of the late Arthur Weisberg's landmark recording of unaccompanied Bach and the impact it had on me when I heard it for the first time. Jesse's performance has that same kind of stellar quality to it-he had stamped his name on these works and given each a definitive performance. I urge you all to buy this wonderful recording for a listening treat that is, in turn, both lyrically and a technically satisfying. Bravo Jesse!