Basson Fantasies are Fulfilled

The bassoon is given a new lease of life thanks to Karen Geoghegan.

Composer: Schubert, Rachmaninov, Schreck, Spohr, Elgar and Schumann
Repertoire: ‘Arpeggione’ Sonata, D821, Vocalise,
Bassoon Sonata, op.9, Adagio, op.151, Salut d’Amour, Fantasiestücke
Artist: Karen Geoghegan, Philip Edward Fisher
Rating: 4/5

Genre: Chamber

Label: Chandos Chan10703

The Music: The poor old bassoon’s expressive tenor qualities are rarely afforded opportunity to shine as soloist. But in this programme, including original bassoon works alongside plentiful arrangements, it comes into its own. Popular miniatures and a pleasant enough sonata by one Gustav Schreck are topped and tailed by Schubert’s ‘Arpeggione’ sonata and Schumann’s Fantasiestücke. 

The Performance: Geoghegan is probably the best advocate the instrument could have: even though parts of the ‘Arpeggione’ sonata (usually heard on cello or viola) don’t quite work on the bassoon, as the ear adjusts her exemplary musicianship comes through and triumphs. In her hands, the high-set melodies of the Schubert slow movement sound positively other-worldly, as does the plaintive Rachmaninov Vocalise. There’s a wonderfully natural, unpretentious quality to Geoghegan’s phrasing and expression – especially in the Schumann – and she is partnered adeptly at all times by Philip Edward Fisher, though sometimes the piano seems to overwhelm the limited projective power of the bassoon.

The Verdict: The sound of the bassoon is an acquired taste, but it’s worth acquiring from time to time; here Geoghegan enables it to cast fresh light on familiar pieces. 

Want More? Chandos is keeping Geoghegan busy. Her CD of concertos by Crusell, Kreutzer, Mozart and Rossini is worth hearing (chan 10613).