Camille Saint-Saëns

Sonata for bassoon & piano, in G major, Op. 168

    Description by Patsy Morita

    In the last year of his life, at the age of 85, Camille Saint-Saëns was still active as a composer and conductor, traveling between Algiers and Paris. Besides a final piano album leaf, his last completed works were three sonatas, one each for oboe, clarinet, and bassoon. He sensed that he did not have much time left; he wrote to a friend, "I am using my last energies to add to the repertoire for these otherwise neglected instruments." He intended to write sonatas for another three wind instruments, but was never able to. Saint-Saëns began the pieces early in the year while in Algeria and completed them in April in Paris. He was not alone in wanting to write for these instruments. English composers, such as Holst and Bax, and other French composers, such as Honegger and Milhaud, were also starting to expand the literature for woodwind instruments around the same time. In fact, Saint-Saëns' sonatas have pastoral and humorous moments that are similar to those others' works, relying on simpler melodies and textures than are found even his earlier chamber works, yet retaining Classical forms for their structure. Although all three sonatas were published before Saint-Saëns' death, they were not premiered until later. The Bassoon Sonata, Op. 168, was dedicated to Saint-Saëns' friend, Clément-Léon Letellier, a bassoon professor at the Paris Conservatoire. The opening Allegro moderato is liltingly charming as it drifts between major and minor, building to a not too dramatic climax in its development section. The second movement, Allegro scherzando, begins in minor mode, but it, too, changes frequently between major and minor during its lighthearted jaunt. The final movement is in two parts, Molto adagio and Allegro moderato. The Adagio, the longest section of the entire sonata at over five minutes, features a florid melody over a simple, essentially chordal accompaniment. It leads to the cadenza-like, minute-long final Allegro.

    Parts/Movements

    1. Allegretto moderato
    2. Allegro scherzando
    3. Molto adagio - Allegro moderato

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2016 Melodiya MELCD 1002355
    2015 Brilliant Classics 95165BR
    2013 Indesens INDE 019
    2012 Brilliant Classics 9252
    2012 MDG / Zebralution
    2012 MDG 6031728
    2012 MDG / Zebralution
    2010 BD Jazz / Zebralution
    2010 Indesens 021
    2010 Naxos 8570964
    2010 Avie 2181
    2009 Indesens 0011
    2008 Thorofon / Zebralution
    2006 Camerata Records 15036
    2006 Cala Records 1017
    2006 Norway Music 38
    2006 MSR Records 1172
    2005 Hyperion 67431
    2004 Harp & Company 5050-01
    2004 Apex
    2004 Camerata Records 25009
    2000 Stradivarius 80013
    2000 Pavane 7349
    2000 ATMA Classique 2198
    1999 MDG 3040395
    1999 Claves 509020
    1998 Boston Records BR1022CD
    1998 Eroica Distribution 3010
    1997 Bongiovanni 5565
    1996 Centaur Records 2244
    1996 Altarus 9032
    1995 Gega 162
    1995 Thorofon 2099
    1993 Kontrapunkt 32062
    MDG 3395
    Camerata Records 66