London Philharmonic Celebrates American Composers. Leonarda LE331 (CD). This includes Donald Erb: Concerto for Contrabassoon and Orchestra played by Greg Heneggar and conducted by Harold Farberman. The piece is modern and technically difficult but Heneggar is a virtuoso. Some impressive writing and playing. The contra is generally clearly heard except in 1 or 2 loud passages.
Donald Erb: Chamber Music. - Albany records Troy 092 (CD). This includes 5 Red Hot Duets for 2 Contrabassoons, written specifically for and played by Greg Heneggar and Bradford Buckley. These are red hot stuff and highly recommended. Virtuoso writing and playing. Modern with no extended techniques (except for very high register); these are exciting pieces.
Susan Nigro : "The Big Bassoon" (Crystal Records CD346).  Mark Lindeblad, piano. Includes: Vazgan Muradian: Contrabassoon Concerto; Donald Draganski: Heart's Desire; Alan Palider: The Narwhal; Ralph Nicholson: Miniature Suite; Frank Warren: Music for Contrabassoon and Piano; Matt Doran: Four Movements. This is fantastic contrabassoon playing. Not excessively virtuoso although Ms. Nigro has technique to spare. The most striking thing is the wonderful warm full tone she gets out of the instrument in all pitch ranges - quite an achievement in itself. The playing is also beautifully and musically phrased almost like a string instrument. The pieces get the most out of the instrument too.
Susan Nigro , "Little Tunes for the Big Bassoon" (1997 Crystal Records, CD348).  Another wonderful contrabassoon CD.  Includes Morceau pour le Basson (Luigi Cherubini), Suite from Variation for Violin on Themes of Tartini (Corelli), Allegro from Concerto Grosso Op 3, No. 2 (Geminiani), Jimbo's Lullaby (Debussy), Burlesque pour Basson et Piano (Bozza), Honey-Coloured Cow (Gipps), Leviathin (Gipps), The Ox and the Ass, Introduction and Carol (Gipps), Concert Piece for Bassoon and Strings (Phillips), Little Suite, op. 23 (Laudenslager), Romance (Organn), Take Five (Paul Desmond), Harlem Nocturne (Earle Hagen), The Pink Panther (Mancini), Variations on a theme of Rober Schumann (Davis), Down in the Deep Cellar (Del Negro), Der Alte Brummbar, Polka comique (Fucik), Clarinet Polka (traditional), and Tarantella Napoletano (traditional).
Susan Nigro & Burl Lane, "The 2 Contras" (1999 Crystal Records, CD349).  Third in a great series, this CD is all works performed on 2 contrabassoons, with or without piano.  The tracks are "Sonatina d'Amore" for two contrabassoons (Daniel Dorff); "Sonata No. 1 for Two bassoons" (Etienne Ozi) (but played on two contras); "From the Deep" (Arthur Weisberg) for two contrabassoons and piano (commissioned by Burl Lane); "Sonata for Bassoon & Cello" (Mozart) (but played on two contras); "Concerto in F Major" (Johann B. Vanhal) (written for bassoon & orchestra, here played on two contras & piano); "The Impish Imp" (Michael Curtis) (written for two bassoons, here taken down an octave).  Everything works amazingly well.
Susan Nigro , "The Bass Nightingale" (2001, GM Recordings, GM2069CD).  Once again, Susan Nigro demonstrates that the contrabassoon is capable of virtuoso literature.  This disc contains "Bass Nightingale" by Ervin Schulhoff (also known as Bass Nachtigall), the bassoon work "Concert Piece" by Burrill Phillips, Gunther Schuller's "Concerto for Contrabassoon" (here accompanied by a four-hand piano reduction by the composer), and the bassoon classic "Concerto in F Major" by Carl Phillip Stamitz.  This is a great disc, even if you aren't a contrabassoon fanatic :-)
Arthur Grossman plays solo music for the bassoon and contrabassoon. Crystal Records S342 (LP and cassette - should be reissued on CD, but isn't). This includes Irwin Schulhof: Bass Nachtigall for unaccompanied Contrabassoon A very early piece for the contra (the 1st in fact and dating from the 30s?) includes a satiric prologue not recorded here and is a suite like the Bach Cello ones even to the extent of including a Prelude & Fugue! A good piece well played.
Music of Stefan Wolpe & Erwin Schulhof played by Ensemble Aventure. - Ars Musici AM 1071-2 (CD). This includes Bass Nachtigall with its satirical prologue, the former well played by Reiner Kugele.
Erwin Schulhoff; Chamber Works Vol. 5. Supraphon Records 11 2170-2 131 (1995). This disc includes "Concertino for Flute (Piccolo), Viola and Double Bass", "Divertissement for Oboe, Clarinet and Bassoon", "Bassnachtigall: Drei Vortragsstücke für Kontrafagott-Solo" (Lubos Fait, contrabassoon), "Symphonia germainca", and "Sonata erotica für Solo-Müttertrompete." Another good recording of Bassnachtigall. The liner notes include Schulhoff's "confession":
      ..."the divine spark may be dormant in a piece of black pudding just as well as in the double bassoon. Wherefore I dedicate this composition for digestion' to all friends of lyrical poetry and aesthetes - in brief to all friends of discriminating taste. As others play their sweet melancholy tunes on the violin, I for my part do just the opposite - mind you - only to make you mad, you tiny minions, witty gigolos, salon intellectuals in horn-rimmed spectacles, you pathological tea blossoms and withered Expressionists. - I hereby shamelessly declare that I arose from dirt, and that I am in love with dirt. You, however, were born wearing ironed-out trousers and spick-and-span evening jackets - you snobbish brutes, you! If I wish to keep you at a distance, I put my monocle firmly on, thereby commanding your respect!!!" 
MONICA FUCCI , Contrafagot  (cassette)   Colección "DAFNE"   Compositores e Intérpretes Argentinos Benedetto Marcello - Sonata en mi  menor Antonio Vivaldi. Sonata en la  menor Georg Ph. Telemann - Sonata en sol   menor René Duclos - Quadrille Luis Mihovilcevic - "Dionisos"  ("El Fondo de las Cosas") para contrafagot, coro femenino y  percusión.   Panorama de la Música  Argentina (CD) (1916-1922)   Silvano Picchi -"Invierno  en el Trópico" para contrafagot solo. Monica Fucci, contrafagot Fondo Nacional de las Artes.  IRCO 306
Arthur Grossman , "Bassoon Recital" (1999, ARTBSN Recordings, ARTBSN97).  This CD contains mainly works for bassoon and piano, but ends with "Down In The Deep Cellar" (Ferdinand Del Negro) for contrabassoon & piano, and "Contradiction" (Graham Powning) for two contrabassoons (including Michael Jolivet on the other contra).  All of the bassoons and contras used on the CD were made by Wolf, and are listed by serial number, type of wood (except for the contras), and bocal type for each selection.  Good clear timbres: a well-done CD.  The CD is available by mail directly from Dr. Grossman , who is the US contact for Wolf bassoons and contrabassoons.
Hoffnung's "Music Festivals " (1989, EMI 7 63302 2) contains a recording of "Variations on Annie Laurie " by Gordon Jacob, scored for two piccolos, heckelphone , two contrabass clarinets , two contrabassoons, serpent , contrabass serpent, harmonium, hurdy-gurdy, and subcontrabass tuba.  Written and arranged on a dare...
"Duets" by Susan Allen and Vinny Golia (1998?, 9winds NWCD0204).  VG plays piccolo, flute, alto & bass flute, strich, Bb and bass clarinet, soprano sax, and contrabassoon, while SA plays harp.  The entire disc is a set of (improvised?) duets between harp and one or another wind.  Interesting, creative, introspective.  I especially liked the contrabassoon tracks ;-)
"Music by Paul Hindemith" (2001, Centaur Records, CRC2566) includes the Trio for Heckelphone, Viola and Piano Op. 47, Art Grossman on Heckelphone (also bassoon and contrabassoon) .  This CD also includes the Hindemith Sonatas for Oboe & Piano, English Horn & Piano, Bassoon & Piano, and Contrabassoon & Piano.  Recommended!  More to the point, this is the premiere recording of the Sonata for Contrabassoon and Piano, which was created by David Neumeyer (U. Texas at Austin) from two other Hindemith works (Reihe kleiner Stucke, op. 37 no. 2, and "The Moon" from the "Nine English Songs") to fill in the gap.  Worth seeking out.

Adam Gilberti's "Genesis Concert" CD includes contrabassoon, on "Reflections of Honor", "Celestial Equinox", "Seismic Disturbances" (in which there are obvious solos), and "Violin Concerto". Other instruments featured on the CD (actually a 2 CD set) include contrabass flute, contrabass and contra-alto clarinet, bass sax, serpent, contrabass sax, and Bb subcontrabass tubax. See to order the CD.


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Text by Francis Firth & Grant Green