Tempo markings, fingerings, and performance suggestions for mm. 8-43. By Terry B. Ewell. Bassoon Digital Professor #105. www.2reed.net.
<Music: Last page cadenza portion of Osborne’s Rhapsody for Bassoon>
Welcome, this is my second video with comments on performing Osborne’s Rhapsody. This is part two and I am Terry Ewell introducing some of this music to you.
The term a tempo is employed in a consistent fashion by Osborne. A tempo means to start again in the tempo previously indicated with metronome markings or Italian tempo markings. In two instances in the Peters edition the term a tempo is linked with a tempo marking in parenthesis. For instance, here in measure 9 we have a tempo given with quarter note equals 80 and this was provided earlier in measure 5. Now this is the exception to the rule: when you see a numeric tempo given with a tempo. Elsewhere you will typically just find a tempo by itself.
Interestingly enough the Study provides further evidence for Osborne’s consistent treatment of the term a tempo. Measure 40 of the Rhapsody contains a tempo but no metronomic marking. Here, however, in the Study in measure 40 we have quarter note equals 92. I realize it is a little hard to see here. The copy is not very good. But this also indicates quarter note equals 92. So we have no a tempo given here in the Study, instead we just have the metronomic marking. Here is the Rhapsody with the same passage. Here is quarter note equals 92 but here we find in measure 40 a tempo without the number. So clearly a tempo means 92 here and in these prior segments in the Rhapsody. Throughout the Rhapsody you look for the earlier metronomic number that has been given.
Now it is time to look for a few suggestions for fingerings. There are some difficult places in the Rhapsody. Bassoonists can help ourselves by employing certain fingerings. The slur from E flat 4 to A flat 3 is quite awkward and often A flat 3 doesn’t come out. What I suggest is that instead of using the whisper (pianissimo) key instead you put down the A key. Typically I will close this entire hole but you can leave it as a half hole if you wish. I will hold this key down for the full duration of the note because it is very quick. This is a technique called “flicking.” We will see in our next example another illustration of that technique.
Here a bit further into the piece going into measure 15 you find G4 slurred to E flat 4. This E flat does not want to come out. That is partially because at the F above open F it acts a bit like a break similar to open 4. There is a great change in embouchure and a registral shift that happens in an interesting manner there. So as a consequence it is difficult to slur over that little break. My suggestion is that you flick the C sharp key. Finger your normal Eb and flick the C sharp key.
Now by flicking I mean venting or briefly holding down this key at the start of the note. I probably wouldn’t hold down that key for the entire note. Rather, just when the note comes out I release the key. In the USA we commonly call this technique “flicking.”
Here is an instance where I want to remind you about a very important breath. This is not marked in the music but I encourage you to do so. In measure 24 you need to take a good breath in this place so that can continue on with the section following it including this very sudden change to piano in measure 26.
Notice the very large dynamic contrast I am able to make here. I achieve the drama of the piano marking here not only through a change in volume but also with a slight delay of the downbeat in 26. I think you will find that this is very effective. Here is my performance of this passage.
<Music: measures 24 to 28>
Now the first cadenza must convey passion and excitement. It is not as fervent as the second cadenza but it still must be played with fluid technique and a quicker pace. In measure 34 you find some very awkward notes here. The transition between F4 and G flat 4 can be quite awkward. You might want to try using the trill fingering to facilitate this. Play your standard F4 fingering and lift this finger to achieve an F sharp. However, when I play the passage I use my standard F sharp 4 fingering.
Here is my performance of this first cadenza.
<Music: first cadenza>
I suggest using the whisper key lock in measure 37 after the low D. The symbol for the whisper key lock is a circle with an X in it. The symbol for releasing the lock is an open circle with no X.
You may be asking, “What is a whisper key lock?” Let me give you a few examples. Here is the standard whisper key lock mechanism available on many bassoons. This is the boot joint and this up here is the tenor joint. You engage the whisper key lock by pushing this mechanism upward with generally the right fore (index) finger. Here we have the whisper key lock engaged on that standard bassoon. You can see that it has been pushed all the way up and it is pushing this key off.
My bassoon has a different whisper key lock mechanism. My whisper key has a spring and a way of engaging it so that it will lock simply by pushing with my thumb here. Notice that there is no gap here. The whisper key is not yet engaged. But now you can see a gap here as I have locked this whisper key for this passage.
Before the recapitulation in measures 40-42 there is a passage that should be played with hesitation—that is the translation of the term here. I think I should have done more than what I present here. For a moment the performer should sound lost, disoriented, or perhaps even confused. You don’t quite know where the music is going and then when you come to the recapitulation in measure 43 then “ah” we have a point of arrival.
So here I am playing measure 40 going into the recapitulation.
<Music: measures 40-43>
<Music: ending of the Rhapsody>