bassoons and horns

30 May, 2009 § Leave a comment

stumbled upon this rather interesting excerpt from Anatomy of An Orchestra by Norman del Mar.

Although the bassoon is the standard bass instrument of the woodwind ensemble it is in many ways unsuitable for this role. … In ensemble work horns and bassoons can produce such a perfect match as to be almost indistinguishable, while the horn has the advantage of greater weight coupled with roundness of tone. Bassoons are, however, able to reciprocate and are often added as extra members of the horn quartet to become, as it were, 3rd and 4th horns in, for example, the third movement of Mendelssohn’s Italian Symphony, or even 5th and 6th horns – as in the Introduction to Act 3 of Wagner’s Die Meistersinger or the Overture to Humperdinck’s Hansel und Gretel.

This association, it must be admitted, can have the effect of stirring up the latent resentment sometimes felt by bassoonists at their colleagues in the horn deparment. For the question of how much sheer tone the bassoon can muster is a thorny one and close to the heart of every player. Many a time they will turn malevolently to the enviably rifting horns who can rid themselves of all their spleen and inhibitions, a luxury denied to bassoonists for all eternity.

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