Peter Whelan – Mozart’s Bassoon: Engagingly enriched

Mozart's Bassoon
    
Artist: Peter Whelan, Kristian Bezuidenhout, Ensemble Marsyas
Genre: Classical
Label: Linn Records CKD 680

Peter Whelan, the artistic director of the Irish Baroque Orchestra and an artistic partner of Irish National Opera, seems to spend most of his time conducting these days. His dynamism in Vivaldi's Bajazet in INO's production of Vivaldi's Bajazet at the Royal Opera House in London has just netted his work with the IBO an Olivier Award nomination for outstanding achievement in opera.

This new album from Linn Records, a mix of new and previously released recordings, features him in his long-familiar role as a bassoonist. The earliest, from 2014, is of Mozart's Sonata for bassoon and cello, given in a fleshed-out version with Kristian Bezuidenhout on fortepiano.

Tight grip

If you've ever felt that the two melodic lines on their own result in a finish that's too thin, this engaging enrichment may be just what you need. The most recent offering is a 2021 version of Mozart's early Bassoon Concerto. It makes an interesting contrast with Whelan's 2012 recording with Jonathan Cohen's Arcangelo. The focus with Whelan's own Ensemble Marsyas is much sharper, the orchestral lines more muscular, the musical grip tighter. The handling of the third work, the great Wind Serenade in C minor, K388, recorded in 2019, is even more incisively illuminating.

Michael Dervan

Michael Dervan

Michael Dervan is a music critic and Irish Times contributor