Rui Lopes / English Chamber Orchestra

Through Time

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The title of this release by Portuguese-Swiss bassoonist Rui Lopes (who in all but spelling shares his name with a famous chess opening) is accurate enough: Through Time runs from Vivaldi through Mozart to the 20th century, the last well represented by a trio of works. But what's impressive is not simply the breadth of the program but Lopes' facility in a great variety of bassoon sounds. He excels in the bruising virtuosity of Vivaldi's Bassoon Concerto in C major, RV 472, the delicate melodicism of the young Mozart, the broad conceits of the little-known Romance for bassoon and orchestra, Op. 62, by Elgar, and the gentle exoticism of Villa-Lobos. The biggest attraction is a work by the sorely underrated neo-classicist Jean Françaix, who should be twice as well known as Joaquín Rodrigo but instead is maybe one-tenth as celebrated. Hear the soaring slow movement of his Divertissement for bassoon and string orchestra, and Lopes' perfectly controlled treatment. The classical repertoire for bassoon is much lamented and not very large; with the Françaix work adding a delightful breezy interlude to it, the album would be worth the purchase price for that alone. With all the other masterly playing involved, it's a must-have for anyone who likes the bassoon. The only caveat is the overmiked sound; if you enjoy hearing a group of musicians gulping down air at the beginning of a piece, this is for you.

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