Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Sonata for bassoon and cello in Bb, K.292 [14:04]
François DEVIENNE (1759-1803)
Quartet in C Major for bassoon, violin, viola and cello, Op. 73 No. 1 [16:56]
Quartet in F Major for bassoon, violin, viola and cello, Op. 73 No. 2 [18:36]
Quartet in G Minor for bassoon, violin, viola and cello, Op. 73 No. 3 [17:54]
Matthias Rácz (bassoon)
Members of the Merel Quartet
rec. 11-13 May 2015, Immanuelkirche Wuppertal
ARS PRODUKTION ARS38194 SACD [67:51]
Mozart is thought by some authorities to have composed at least three bassoon concertos, though only one, K191 in B flat major, survives. The Sonata for Bassoon and Violoncello K.292, also in B flat, is interesting and unique in its instrumentation. In fact, Daniel Knaack in the booklet questions the assignment of cello as the accompaniment given that the original manuscript has not survived. The Sonata is technically less demanding than the Concerto, with the bassoon playing the lead voice almost throughout the entire work.
François Devienne was a virtuoso flautist and bassoonist. His compositions are of very high quality – one of his bassoon concertos was mis-attributed to Mozart. These Op.73 quartets are the only ones he wrote for the combination of bassoon, violin, viola and cello. All three have a substantial opening Allegro movement, followed by a slow movement and a finale in either rondo or variation form. The bassoon is given the lead role for the majority of the time. Cantabile melodies and virtuosic passages are alternated, and the solo instrument occasionally joins the accompaniment while the violin takes the spotlight.
Matthias Rácz is a world-class bassoonist. He won the First Prize at the Prague Spring Competition followed by a Second Prize at the Munich ARD Competition in 2002, where the First Prize had never previously been given in the bassoon category. His playing on this album more than backs up his reputation. It is distinguished by beautiful and even tone, judicious use of vibrato, wonderful dynamic and tonal control, excellent intonation, immaculate technique, beautiful phrasing and fine sensitivity to nuance.
As things stand, this is easily the best rendition of the Devienne quartets currently available, and its virtues are boosted by the latest recorded sound in Super Audio. It's not to be missed.
Wai Kit Leung