It would be no exaggeration to name Antonio Vivaldi as the “pioneer of the bassoon concerto”. The first milestone in the emancipation of the bassoon, until the beginning of the 17 century exclusively used as a basso continuo instrument, for which the part wasn’t even written out, was a series of nine virtuoso bassoon sonatas published by Giovanni Antonio Bertoli in 1645.
Caprichio, part of Channel Classics' ongoing series focusing on the first chair players of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, features Uruguayan bassoonist Gustavo Nunez. Considered one of the finest bassoonists of his generation, Núñez studied at the Musikhochschule Hannover and the Royal College of Music. While still a student in 1987, he was awarded the Prix Suisse at the International Competition in Geneva and the Carl Maria von Weber Prize in Munich. Nunez has held the position of principal bassoonist of the Concertgebouw since 1995. Included here are works for bassoon and string orchestra by Villa-Lobos, Gubaidulina, Dutch composer Kees Olthuis and Ururguayan composer Jaures Lamarque Pons.
The old model for creating a hit classical recording – big-name soloist plus big-name conductor in major repertory work – is not so common anymore, but this live Brahms recording from the Staatskapelle Berlin under Venezuela's Gustavo Dudamel, with Argentine-Israeli-Palestinian-Spanish pianist Daniel Barenboim as soloist, shows that there's life in the concept yet. One could point to the virtues of pianist and conductor separately: it's a rare septuagenarian who can combine power and clear articulation of detail the way Barenboim does, and Dudamel builds a vast sweep in, especially, the Piano Concerto No. 1 in D minor, Op. 15. But it's the way that the two work together that really makes news. Chalk it up to shared South American heritage or to whatever the listener wants, but the way the orchestra and piano define separate spheres and work them together is extraordinary. Again, it is in the Piano Concerto No. 1 and its Beethovenian drama that their mutual understanding is most evident, but there is a sense of great variety powerfully unified throughout.
Libertador, Gustavo Dudamel's first soundtrack, and first composition to be released worldwide. Gustavo originally arrived to this project as musical advisor. Sometime later, Gustavo said he had come up with a melody that could work for the start of the film. He went to the piano and began playing the melody. When he finished playing, I think both of us realized that he had begun composing our soundtrack. Dudamel, who consulted with filmscore master John Williams in the preparations for this assignment, describes his soundtrack as atmospheric, post-Mahlerian music, full of tension, hope and struggle. The Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra and guests from the world of Venezuelan folk music lend the score a distinctive and irresistible Latin American flavor.
Sidewalls is a clever romantic comedy examining with charm how the architecture of a city conditions the lives of two of its residents. Taretto pays homage to the city of Buenos Aires as he reflects on how urban chaos, as well as new technologies, can unite people but also keep them apart (as the sidewalls of the title). Mixing animation, photography and graphic art he reveals the characters' isolation and anxieties that are a staple of modern life in a noisy city that nonetheless has an irresistible charm.