A Bassoon in Stockholm…

Chamber works associated with the bassoon virtuoso Frans Preumayr
Donna Agrell bassoon, Lorenzo Coppola clarinet, Teunis van der Zwart horn, Marc Destrubé & Franc Polman violins, Yoshiko Morita viola, Albert Brüggen cello, Robert Franenberg double bass, Ronald Brautigam fortepiano
68:53
BIS 2141 SACD

This remarkable recording owes its existence to the fine detective work of the solo bassoonist, Donna Agrell. She plays a Grenser & Wiesner instrument which she bought some thirty years ago and whose case had a Swedish address label on it; the connection led her to Frans Preumayr who moved there with two of his brothers at the beginning of the 19th century to join the Royal Orchestra. The clarinettist in that ensemble was none other than Bernhard Henrik Crusell, who as well as composing several pieces for him later became his father-in-law. The works on this CD are by another member of the orchestra, Franz Berwald, and its director, Edouard Du Puy (though its third movement – which requires the bassoonist to cover three and a half octaves! – was actually added later by one of the court oboists, Carl Anton Philipp Braun).

Agrell is joined by colleagues from the Orchestra of the Eighteenth Century and a fortepianist who needs no introduction. Together they make fabulous music, with the bassoon really only prominent in the Du Puy quintet. In Berwald’s Septet (clarinet, horn, bassooon, violin, viola, cello and bass) and quartet with piano, clarinet and horn, it is just one voice – albeit an eloquent and stylish one! – among many.

The recorded sound is first rate, as we expect from BIS.

I cannot imagine this recital being an “easy sell” for the company, given that the title is not exactly going to grab the attention of prospective buyers in shops (if such things even exist any more!) or online, but I sincerely hope that it gets decent air time and sells well – it is rare for such obscure repertoire to be given such fine performances, and the tale behind the whole project is enchanting!

Brian Clark