Mozart – Bassoon Concerto (Aligi Voltan)

Accompanied by Orchestra del Teatro Olimpico di Vicenza, Italian classical bassoonist Aligi Voltan performs most often performed and studied piece in the entire bassoon repertory, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Bassoon Concerto in B flat major, K. 191/186e. Conductor: Giovanni Battista Rigon. Recorded doring a live concert in the Teatro Olimpico of Andrea Palladio in Vicenza, Italy in June, 2004.

The piece is composed in 1774 (although the autograph score is lost, the exact date of its completion is known: 4 June 1774), when Mozart was 18 year-old. It was his first concerto for a wind instrument. Scholars believe that Mozart may have written five bassoon concerti, but that only the first has survived.

There are three movements:

  1. Allegro: The first movement is written in the common sonata form with an orchestral introduction.
  2. Andante ma Adagio: The second movement is a slow and lyrical sonata without development that contains a theme which was later featured in the Countess’s aria “Porgi, Amor” at the beginning of the second act of Mozart’s opera Le nozze di Figaro.
  3. Rondo: tempo di menuetto: The final movement is in rondo form.
Munich bassoonist Felix Reiner by Peter Jacob Horemans (1774)
A 1774 portrait of Munich bassoonist Felix Reiner by Peter Jacob Horemans (October 26, 1700 – August 3, 1776) the Flemish painter of genre scenes, portraits, conversation pieces, still lifes and city views. When Mozart wrote his Bassoon Concerto in B flat major, K. 191/186e, the bassoon was just beginning the gradual process of redesign that would turn it from the four-keyed instrument that reigned through most of the eighteenth century into the far more adaptable, mechanically advanced instrument of today. By the mid-1760s, some bassoons began to sport a couple of extra keys to stabilize the production of low notes and certain chromatic pitches. The above portrait of Felix Reiner painted in 1774, the same year which Mozart wrote his bassoon concerto, offers the earliest documentation of a pinhole in the instrument’s crook (or “bocal,” the curved metal tube that connects the reed to the main body of the instrument), which would have helped the player negotiate octave leaps.

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