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Music for Bassoon and Piano by Bassoonists: Primavera


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Audio CD, September 2, 2009
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Review

This is difficult, but very exciting review for me to write, since one of my own compositions is included in this beautifully wrought CD. Along with my Sonata for Bassoon and Piano (For Irmgard) (revised 1997), brilliant New Zealand bassoonist, now professor or bassoon at the University of North Carolina-Greensboro, Michael Burns has selected some wonderful bassoon works all of which have been composed by bassoonists themselves, and recorded them in absolutely stunning interpretations. Among these compositions is my personal all-time favorite work, the Sonata (1981) by John Steinmetz, which I consider to be the very finest composition for bassoon of the 20th Century. But that is not all. Using a sabbatical leave from UNC, Michael not only recorded these works but also visited each of us composers for a lesson from us on our individual compositions. The result is a CD of incomparable beauty and performance finesse of the very highest order. Besides the works mentioned above, Michael and his fantastic pianist Inara Zandmane, who is also on the faculty at UNC, perform Michael's own Two Aoearoa Sketches (2004); Reverie and Dance (1989/1990), by David Kirby, and Prima Vera (2000) by Ray Pizzi. In each case both artists have interpreted and recorded each work with incredible skill and artistry. What can one say about the Steinmetz Sonata? If you have performed it, as I was fortunate enough to have done, then I am sure it has become one of your very favorite works. I heard it for the first time myself at the Rotterdam IDRS Conference in 1999, performed by John himself. I was stricken by its beauty, immediately bought the music from John, and performed it shortly afterward. (Now the work is conveniently available in a nice publication by TrevCo Music: TCO 1506). Michael's interpretation of the Steinmetz is exceptional. His performance of the last movement is so stirring and moving that I can practically cry every time I hear it! I am not exaggerating. What a way to open a CD! Michael s own 2 Aotearoa Sketches: Moods/Modes and A New Year s Piece follow next. According to the excellent program notes, that are also a valuable addition to the CD, Aotearoa is the native Maori name for New Zealand, and is usually translated as the Land of the Long White Cloud . These lovely 2 movements are very warm and listenable works written in a neo-classical style of expanded tonality, bordering on impressionism, but with a lot of jazz flavor as well, particularly in the second Sketch. There is also some nice jazzy tone bending that Michael adds to the mix in this movement. This work is very exciting rhythmically and colorful throughout. It would be a lot of fun to perform. Like the Steinmetz, it is published by TrevCo (TCO 1332). Hopefully it will reach a larger audience through this recording. The next work on the CD is another very fine showpiece for the bassoon, Reverie and Dance by David Kirby, (also published by TrevCo: TCO 1125). It begins with a beautifully lyrical theme before yielding to a highly rhythmic fast dance. The balance between lyricism and rhythmic excitement is very nicely equated in this work, enabling the bassoonist to showcase both the melodic and technical capacity of the instrument. The style is modern but tonal. All in all it is a fine, listenable work that would go over well with any audience. --Ronald Klimko

Ray Pizzi's Prima Vera follows, and once again it puts the bassoon into the realm of pure jazz. After a slow, quite impressionistic intro, the bassoon gets down and dirty with a super-cool jazz rift that sounds like it would be wonderful to perform. This eventually gives way to the slow opening theme and the work ends quietly on this note. Wonderful piece, but unlike the others, not published by TrevCo. My own Sonata for Bassoon and Piano (For Irmgard) concludes the CD. I won't describe the four movement ca. 20 --Ronald Klimko (Continued)

Ray Pizzi's Prima Vera follows, and once again it puts the bassoon into the realm of pure jazz. After a slow, quite impressionistic intro, the bassoon gets down and dirty with a super-cool jazz rift that sounds like it would be wonderful to perform. This eventually gives way to the slow opening theme and the work ends quietly on this note. Wonderful piece, but unlike the others, not published by TrevCo. My own Sonata for Bassoon and Piano (For Irmgard) concludes the CD. I won't describe the four movement ca. 20 minute work, and I will leave it up to the listener to decide its musical worth. What I will note, however, is the incredibly careful and exquisite artistry that Michael and Inara convey in their remarkable performance of it: indescribably beautiful! As the program notes indicate, one of the reasons I have composed so little over the years is my understanding that I don t compose music that is easy to play . And after years of hearing so many half-hearted attempts to play my music, it simply became easier to quit composing than to suffer through the agony of an ill prepared performance. But Michael and Inara have exceeded my highest expectations. And for this I will be eternally grateful to them both for this stellar performance of my very challenging composition. If you like the piece (and I dearly hope you do!), it will be available soon again thru TrevCo (TCO 1126). Everything about this recording is first rate-the music, the recording technique and balance. I recommend it so very strongly to you so that you can revel in the gorgeous sounds and breathlessly beautiful music these two fine artists have created. --Ronald Klimko (Continued)

Listen to Samples and Buy MP3s

Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

Samples
Song Title Time Price
listen  1. Bassoon Sonata: I. Prelude 6:07$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  2. Bassoon Sonata: II. Browning 5:32$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  3. Bassoon Sonata: III. Lament12:02Album Only
listen  4. 2 Aotearoa Sketches: No. 1. Moods/Modes 4:49$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  5. 2 Aotearoa Sketches: No. 2. A New Years' Piece 5:50$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  6. Reverie and Dance 5:00$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  7. Prima Vera 6:33$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  8. Bassoon Sonata (1997 version): I. Moderate tempo-like a slow march 6:07$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  9. Bassoon Sonata (1997 version): II. Very fast, rhythmic 4:02$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen10. Bassoon Sonata (1997 version): III. Very slow and as gentle as possible 5:52$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen11. Bassoon Sonata (1997 version): IV. Fast and wild: In the style of a gypsy dance 3:54$0.99  Buy MP3 

Product Details

  • Performer: Michael Burns - bassoon, Inara Zandmane - piano
  • Conductor: n/a
  • Composer: Michael Burns, John Steinmetz, David Kirby, Ray Pizzi, Ronald Klimko
  • Audio CD (September 2, 2009)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Mark Records
  • ASIN: B002MQ4G2I
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #514,290 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Amanda H on August 5, 2010
Format: Audio CD
I would recommend Dr. Burns' CD to all musicians, and especially bassoonists. Dr. Burns introduces new repertoire to the bassoon community that I believe will be widely performed in the future. His tone is beautiful and his technique is flawless, as always. My two personal favorites on the CD are Ray Pizzi's Prima Vera and Dr. Burns' Two Aotearoa Sketches. Aside from his obvious mastery of the pieces, it is also important to know that Dr. Burns took lessons with the composers of the pieces so that they have been performed as the composer wished.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Tea Drinker on August 17, 2010
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
If you are looking for musical fireworks, you'll have to look somewhere else. This CD is more like a walk though woods and fields. It presents mostly lyrical compositions by composers who are bassoonists themselves. It is the first commercial recording of these pieces, which feature some interesting sounds (e.g. "pitch bends")and unusual harmonic progressions. The balance of bassoon and piano is just right, and Michael Burns has a lovely sound.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mark R. Bumgarner on September 24, 2009
Format: Audio CD
This collection of works for Bassoon is fantastic. Michael Burns is an outstanding performer his interpretation of these technically challenging works is phenomenal. I would recommend this not only to bassoonist, but to any one who appreciates quality music.
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By Steve Burns on September 27, 2009
Format: Audio CD
As a long time amateur brass player I do not often listen to extensive amounts of chamber music, unless it be my favourite brass ensembles, and bassoon works being reasonably rare anyway sadly have not received much air time! I have to say that this CD has made a convert of me, with the range of musical styles, and sheer depth of beauty Michael has achieved here a joy to experience. The jazz tracks are a particular delight for me, and I recommend anyone who would like to broaden their musical horizons to give this a go!
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