A bassoon concerto is a piece of music performed a solo bassoonist with a large supporting ensemble. The majority of bassoon concertos are classical in nature. They are usually performed at formal concerts and are usually paired with other works for soloists or works with similar themes or styles.
Bassoonists frequently perform bassoon concertos with full orchestras, especially when professionally recording the concertos. Some contemporary bassoon concertos, on the other hand, are written for bassoon and a wind orchestra, which does not include any string players. Piano reductions of orchestra parts are commonly used players who want to perform bassoon concertos in more intimate settings or who do not yet have the reputation to work with full orchestras except at great expense.
Bassoon concertos, like works for the oboe, first appeared in the baroque period, particularly in France, where King Louis XIV was a strong supporter of the arts and sought to develop more instruments for court music. The dulcian, which eventually gave way to the modern bassoon’s design, was not designed to accommodate much virtuosity prior to this period. In comparison to the roughly two dozen keys on modern bassoons, the version of the bassoon for which baroque composers began seriously composing concertos and other works had only three to six keys.
Antonio Vivaldi is arguably the most important composer of bassoon concertos. This is not due to the fact that Vivaldi’s concertos are superior to those of other composers. Vivaldi’s significance in terms of bassoon concertos is measured the number of them he composed. Vivaldi composed over three dozen bassoon concertos in total, making him one of the most prolific composers of all time for this genre of music. Carl Maria von Weber, Johann Nepomuk Hummel, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Carl Stamitz, and Johann Christian Bach are other notable composers who wrote bassoon concertos during the baroque, classical, and romantic periods. Friedrich Schenker and Sophia Gubaidulina are two contemporary composers who have written bassoon concertos.
A bassoon concerto has three movements and follows the standard concerto form. The first and third movements are usually of a moderate to fast tempo, demonstrating the bassoonist’s dexterity and flexibility in fingering and general technique. However, the second movement, while usually slower, is no less demanding. The composer usually asks the player to show the most control in terms of breath support, embouchure, and tone beauty in the second movement.
The movements of a bassoon concerto, like those for other instruments, are not uncommon to last 15 to 20 minutes when combined. Because a complete bassoon concerto is so long, some players, especially students performing standard recitals, only perform excerpts during performances. This frees them up to perform other music for the audience. Most professional bassoonists, on the other hand, perform the concerto in its entirety, usually as one half of a concert that also includes other works the orchestra or wind orchestra.
Bassoonists usually sit down when playing the bassoon because it is a large, heavy instrument. Bassoonists, on the other hand, frequently stand when performing a bassoon concerto. This is much more physically demanding and necessitates the use of a neck strap or other device to support the instrument.