19th Century Gems for Bassoon and Piano

Johannes Meinardus Coenen, Ignaz Lachner, Josef Matern Marx, Gustav Schreck, Louis Spohr, Julius Weissenborn




“The works on this recording are lyrical and charming... Canadian bassoonist Michel Bettez and pianist Jeanne Amiele manage to bring life to even the most prosaic of these offerings. Bettez, principal bassoonist of Montreal’s Metropolitan Orchestra, plays very expressively, with a sonorous, singing sound and excellent musical instincts. Amiele matches him with her beautiful playing and exquisite sensitivity. This is worth hearing.”
Pfeil, American Record Guide [March/April 2018]
“[This recording] is a success on three levels: the repertoire, the artistry, and the instrument... Marx’s sonata also gives Bettez’s superb accompanist Jeanne Amièle many opportunities to shine at the keyboard, though in truth she does so throughout... [Bettez], never less than vital and clearly up to all the technical challenges, is more inclined to savor the lyric qualities of the works he plays. His instrument is marvelous: warm of tone, stable in the large leaps demanded by the Marx Sonata, and especially notable for its openness in the highest octave. Tuning seems impeccable, and while it is difficult to assess projection in a recording, it is certainly an instrument with a strong presence... Bassoonists and bassoon aficionados need not hesitate.”
Ronald E. Grames, Fanfare [January/February 2018]
“[Michel Bettez with] pianist Jeanne Amièle a stunning partner, and audiophile sound, Bettez and his Bernd Moosmann 222A show what sensuous tone and seamless virtuosity can do in a charmingly obscure collection of 19th-century treasures the bassoon was surely invented for... Bettez and Amièle give what must be ideal performances. He plays beautifully in tune and with a wistful Gallic sweetness, she with full-blooded richness and poetry. Recorded in the concert hall at the Conservatoire de Musique de Montréal with indecently sumptuous sound, this recital is what music-making in Montreal is all about.”
Laurence Vittes, Gramophone [December 2017]
"The works played by Michel Bettez and Jeanne Amièle...accord [the bassoon] more of a starring role than it often had at the time these pieces were written... Bettez is a very fine advocate for this little-known music, and Amièle provides fine support and partnership throughout this unusually pleasant foray into unfamiliar Romantic-era material.”
Mark J. Estren, InfoDad [October 2017]
19th Century Gems for Bassoon and Piano
The bassoon is truly a wondrous instrument. The history of its various forms and transformations over the centuries is a complex and fascinating one. But from the one-piece dulcian to the modern bassoon, this double-reed tenor and bass woodwind has never ceased to be one of the most versatile of wind instruments.

Since the Baroque period, when it adopted its multiple-joint construction, its wide range in compass and tone color made it not only indispensable as the bass of the oboe family, but also as a rich support in the orchestra and as an increasingly favored obbligato or solo instrument. As early as 1695, the French composer Lalande in his Grand Pièce Royale included an obbligato bassoon part, lending the work an extra measure of heartfelt expression. Vivaldi composed no fewer than 39 bassoon concertos, outnumbered only by those he wrote for the violin. The 18th century saw many concertos, chamber works, and vocal works featuring the bassoon prominently, especially in the German-speaking world, notably in works by J.S. Bach, Fasch, Graun, and later Haydn and Mozart. By the 19th century, in a period when it was undergoing various changes, the bassoon held an important role in the many fashionable chamber works for winds. Solo works for the bassoon, whether full-blown concertos or short individual pieces and sonatas with piano, were being written by professional composers (Hummel, Weber) with a specific performer in mind, or by virtuosi for their own use. The present recording offers a pick of some veritable musical gems for bassoon and piano, mostly from little-known composers well worth discovering.

For more than 30 years, Michel Bettez has been the principal bassoonist of Montreal’s Orchestre Métropolitain, currently under the artistic direction of maestro Yannick Nézet-Séguin. Since 1990, Bettez has also been principal bassoonist of the Orchestre symphonique de Laval, and a member of Nouvel Ensemble Moderne (NEM) since its founding in 1989. With NEM, he has toured extensively in Canada, the United States, Mexico, Europe, Asia and Australia. In 1984, Bettez earned special mention (second place) at the Concours du Prix d’Europe, a performance competition held in Quebec, and since then has played as soloist with numerous orchestras. A highly versatile artist, Bettez also plays baroque and classical bassoon with several period ensembles. He was also a member of notable chamber music groups, including the woodwind quintet, Ensemble Pentaèdre. Bettez is an official recital artist for the esteemed bassoon manufacturer, Bernd Moosmann, and has given numerous recitals at international music conferences, including many of the annual events hosted by the International Double Reed Society (IDRS). He has taught at the Conservatoire de musique de Montréal and as part of the faculty of music at l’Université de Montréal, and has given master classes and recitals in several universities in France, the United States, Mexico and the Philippines.

Canadian pianist Jeanne Amièle has distinguished herself at several Canadian competitions in recent years, including the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal’s Manulife Competition, Canadian Music Competition, Concours de musique Hélène-Roberge and Concours de l’Orchestre symphonique de Trois-Rivières. In 2016, Amièle won first prize in the Shean Piano Competition in Edmonton, Alberta, and second prize in the Stepping Stone edition of the Canadian Music Competition, held in Drummondville, Québec. She has also been invited to play as a soloist with several orchestras in Québec, including the Orchestre symphonique de Trois-Rivières under Maestro Jacques Lacombe, the Orchestre de chambre Appassionata under maestro Daniel Myssyk and the Orchestre de l’Université de Montréal under maestra Véronique Lussier. Amièle has been a student at the l’Université de Montréal since 2009, working with pianist Jean Saulnier. As part of an international exchange program for her Master’s degree, she studied at the Haute école de musique in Geneva with professor Dominique Weber. Amièle is currently pursuing a Doctorate on a scholarship she was awarded by the Joseph-Armand Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholarships Program.

This recording was sponsored in part by
Bernd Moosmann Meisterwerkstätte für Holzblasinstrumente GmbH
[ www.b-moosmann.de ]

Michel Bettez plays a Moosmann 222A bassoon.
IGNAZ LACHNER (1807-1895)
NOTTURNO IN F MAJOR for Bassoon and Piano, Op.83 (1895)

JOSEF MATERN MARX (c.1791-1836)
SONATA for Bassoon and Piano (c.1830)
Adagio – Allegro
Moderato assai con espressione
Rondo: Allegro vivace

LOUIS SPOHR (1784-1859)
ADAGIO for Bassoon and Piano, WoO 35 (1817)

SONATA for Bassoon and Piano (c.1863)
Allegro moderato
Recitative: Moderato – Andante

NOTTURNO for Bassoon and Piano, Op.9, No.4 (1888)
Andantino, alla recitativo – Larghetto – Animato – Tempo I

GUSTAV SCHRECK (1849-1918)
SONATA for Bassoon and Piano, Op.9 (c.1890)
Allegro ma non troppo

MSR Classics