ROMANCE & CAPRICEWorks for Bassoon and Piano
FRANK MORELLI, bassoon
GILBERT KALISH, piano
"...this CD is a treat all around, particularly if, like me, you love the bassoon...The playing is unimpeachable—Morelli is a Juilliard professor and a longtime member of the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. Underneath the elegant phrasing and seamless legato, he still lets the instrument speak in its own voice and personality; the rustic core happily remains, rather than being airbrushed into shallow respectability. Kalish continues to carry the standard for true collaborative pianism, the ensemble tight but the conversational rhetoric loose and spontaneous. The three warhorses on the program [Weber, Elgar, Saint-Saëns] are authoritative without being stodgy. Morelli’s fleet virtuosity on the Weber reminds you of that composer’s capacity for unapologetic sparkle...a limpid reading of Rachmaninov’s “Vocalise” further proves melody’s ironclad deathlessness on any instrument, and Morelli’s solo adaptation of the first of Paganini’s Caprices is a convincing, blistering high-wire act. Best in show goes to three arias from Rossini’s Barber of Seville. Morelli and fellow virtuoso Harry Searing revel in the ingenuity of the arrangements, showing in the process the perfect match of instrument and composer: elegant and silly, sweet and comic, appropriately vulgar while insinuatingly aristocratic. The sly, sinister, slapstick, endearing Figaro of the orchestra couldn’t ask for a better portrayal."
Sequenza 21 - July 2007
"The pieces Frank Morelli has programmed display the soul of this instrument very well...Morelli performs [the Schumann Romances] with a spell-binding sotto voce...Morelli's recording [of Saint-Saens' Sonata] has what is wonderful about American-style playing: there is great breadth and expanse to his sound...Morelli's sound [has] affectionate warmth and flexibility...Rossini's arias...are spectacular...[Morelli and Searing] offer a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants performance....Morelli's [recording of the Weber is] quite the spectacle...The adaptation of Rachmaninoff's Vocalise is the soul of this recording. Every note seems to lay bare the music, and each note resonates from the very core of the instrument...Morelli's sensitive, robust, and warm sound, and Gilbert Kalish's very fine piano playing breath life and passion into these works. This is music that holds appeal to a wider audience than bassoonists or wind music aficionados."
American Record Guide - May / June 2007
"Bassoonist Frank Morelli and pianist Gilbert Kalish collaborate on a delightful disc... Weber’s Andante e Rondo Ungarese is a minor masterpiece. Of the arrangements, pride of place goes to the Gebauer/Morelli excerpts from the Barber of Seville; Morelli is joined by Harry Shearing for these three arias, brilliantly arranged for two bassoons and spectacularly played."
Turok's Choice - March 2007
"On this present recording Mr. Morelli demonstrates time and again his remarkable level of musical artistry...Consistently delectable tone, impeccable intonation, and seamless phrasing...Romance & Caprice is yet another fantastic disc by a true artist...this disc sets the new standard in the romantic repertoire."
The Double Reed - February 2007
PROGRAM NOTESThe listener will likely notice the connection between names of several works on this disc and its title. More significantly, Romance & Caprice describes the variety of repertoire offered here, as well as the bassoon’s expressive capacity, with its flexible, three-and-one-half octave range and tone quality comparable to the human voice. The works fall into three periods: 1801-1819, 1849, and 1910-1921. The span is more than 120 years, but the works share a very similar compositional language.
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FRANK MORELLI - Introduced to the bassoon in public school in Massapequa, New York, Frank Morelli studied with Stephen Maxym at the Manhattan and Juilliard Schools of Music. He was the first bassoonist to achieve a doctorate at Juilliard. A long-time member of the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, his recording of the Mozart Bassoon Concerto with Orpheus on the Deutsche Grammophon label won international critical acclaim. The Orpheus disc "Shadow Dances," which features Frank Morelli, won a 2001 Grammy Award. He’s made nine appearances as a soloist in New York's Carnegie Hall and has appeared with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center on numerous occasions, including at the White House for the final State Dinner of the Clinton Presidency. A member of the renowned wind quintet Windscape, which is an ensemble in residence at the Manhattan School of Music, he also serves on the faculties of the Juilliard School, Yale School of Music and SUNY Stony Brook. He is editor of the landmark excerpt book, Stravinsky: Difficult Passages for Bassoon, published by Boosey & Hawkes, and has a number of transcriptions to his credit published by TrevCo, including the Paganini 24th Caprice and arias from The Barber of Seville featured on this disc. Romance and Caprice is Frank Morelli’s third solo CD on MSR Classics.
GILBERT KALISH - Pianist Gilbert Kalish leads a musical life of unusual variety and breadth. Recipient of the Paul Fromm Award, Chamber Music America’s Service Award and the George Peabody Medal, his profound influence on the musical community has established him as a major figure in American music making. Pianist of the Boston Symphony Chamber Players for thirty years, he was a founding member of the Contemporary Chamber Ensemble. A frequent guest artist with many of the world's most distinguished chamber ensembles, Mr. Kalish's discography of some 100 recordings encompasses classical repertory, 20th Century masterworks and new compositions. Distinguished Professor at SUNY Stony Brook, he was a faculty member of the Tanglewood Music Center for 30 years and served as its "Chairman of the Faculty" from 1985-1997. Summers are now spent at the Steans Institute, the Marlboro Festival and Music@Menlo.
HARRY SEARING - Harry Searing, a prominent New York bassoonist, was a student of Stephen Maxym. He has performed often with the New York Philharmonic, as well as virtually every classical organization in the New York area. On tour he has performed with the Chicago Symphony, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic, and Hong Kong Philharmonic. He serves on the faculty of Montclair (NJ) State University.
NICCOLO PAGANINI (1784-1840)
CARL MARIA VON WEBER (1786-1826)
GIOACCHINO ROSSINI (1792-1868)
ROBERT SCHUMANN (1810-1856)
SIR EDWARD ELGAR (1857-1934)
SERGEI RACHMANINOV (1873-1943)
CAMILLE SAINT-SAËNS (1835-1921)