The Big Bassoon

Recently I renewed acquaintance with an instrument I used to own, a Moenig low-A contra-bassoon. Why is the “low-A” important? Well for one thing it adds 18-20 inches of pipe to the conventional contra, in search of that extra semitone so that you can say “I can play the lowest note on the piano”!

Actually I was borrowing it back from the consortium of three friends who bought it so that I could play the contra part in Elgar’s 1st Symphony, with Bushey Symphony Orchestra. And splendid fun it was too, although there aren’t many places during the piece where the contra “stars”. Mind you, the contra rarely stars, but it DOES bring an added solidity to the woodwind sound, and the tall instrument I was playing gives you a certain prominence in the orchestra.

The concert itself was really good, it’s one of the best orchestras I’ve played in. It also featured Marianne Cotterill singing the gorgeously moving swan-song of Richard Strauss’ career, the Four Last Songs, and a piece from the neglected composer William Alwyn. The Elizabethan Dances, while reminiscent of the film music for which he is probably best known, were a jolly antidote to the seriousness of the rest of the concert!

Now on to Schubert’s Great C-Monster…

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