Mozart’s Bassoon Concerto, Part 6. Cadenza 1, Examples and Overview. Cadenzas written by Ibert, Ewell, and Igusa. By Terry B. Ewell, Bassoon Digital Professor. BDP #217. Vincent Igusa, bassoon, and Catherine Renggli, piano.

<music: Vincent Igusa, bassoon, and Catherine Renggli, piano. Towson University Recital Hall, 20 June 2017.>

1. Hello, I am Terry Ewell, the Bassoon Digital Professor. My mission is to present a well-reasoned pedagogy for bassoon practice and performance. This is the sixth video on the Mozart Bassoon Concerto and we are at the half-way mark in the series.

2. In this video we will examine three cadenzas for the Mozart Bassoon Concerto, first movement.

3. Let’s begin by reading Frederick Neumann’s summary of what a cadenza in Mozart’s music should contain.

4. “Cadenzas are introduced by a 6/4 chord on the tonic with fermata, and end typically with a trill on the dominant seventh. They are more substantial, should preferably quote and elaborate on themes or motives from the movement, and should contain some brilliant passage work.

5. Cadenzas should not be too long, should not markedly exceed the technical level of the piece, should not modulate too far afield, and should not jump outside the stylistic framework. In other words, they should neither technically nor stylistically flaunt their character as a foreign implant, one that disturbs the organic unity of the movement.”

 (Ross, David J. “Ornamentation in the Bassoon Music of Vivaldi and Mozart,” Part II. The Double Reed 9/3 (Winter 1986).

6. Now I am going to ask you to be an active listener. Take a piece of paper and pencil or pen and write down these key points taken from Neumann’s presentation:

1) Style. The cadenza should match the style of the music (harmony, melody, rhythms, expression, technical character)
2) Quotation. The cadenza should make use of materials contained in that movement of the concerto.
3) Brilliant passage work. The cadenza should showcase the performer’s abilities.

8. Now as you hear performances of three cadenzas, write down your impressions. I am including the same introduction performed by Catherine Renggli in all the versions so that you can hear the context of the cadenzas.

9. First, here is a cadenza written by Jacques Ibert with a copyright date of 1937. Unfortunately, since the copyright is after 1922, I will not be showing the full music on the screen. You will just have to listen carefully.

<music, Ibert’s cadenza, Performed by Terry B. Ewell>

10. Next is a cadenza I wrote when I was 19 or 20 years old. I first performed this years ago with the University of Washington Symphony Orchestra.

<music, Ewell’s cadenza, performed by Terry B. Ewell>

11. Finally, here is the cadenza written by 16-year-old Vincent Igusa, my student. He premiered this cadenza with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra in Spring 2016.

<music, Igusa’s cadenza, performed by Vincent Igusa>

12. Well, what did you think? The Ibert cadenza was wild, wasn’t it? Cadenzas written in the early and middle 1900s featured extravagent musical departures from the style and key of the composition with extended virtuosic flourishes. Audiences and performers at that time desired qualities in the music that greatly differed from those at the time of Mozart.

13. In terms of Neumann’s standards, however, the Ibert cadenza fell short in all but perhaps the third point. For the most part it did not match the style of the composition in harmony and quickly departed from the B flat major key of the Concerto. The cadenza only briefly quoted material from the Concerto. I must say, however, that it was technically challenging and quite fun to play. The ascent to F5 at the end was particularly memorable, even though bassoons in Mozart’s time did not play that high.

14. In contrast, my cadenza and the cadenza written by Vincent seek to match the style of the Mozart Concerto and to borrow materials from the movement. Both of these cadenzas stand up well to Neumann’s guidelines.

15. I am particularly proud with what Vincent composed. His expression of the Mozart Bassoon Concerto is unique, and this cadenza can be his signature statement for many years to come.

16. Several of my other students have composed wonderful cadenzas for the work as well. Some of these are posted on I hope that they will stimulate you to write your own cadenzas, which will be the subject of the next video in this series.

<music: Vincent Igusa, bassoon, and Catherine Renggli, piano. Towson University Recital Hall, 20 June 2017.>