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Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Franz Krommer; Johann N. Hummel - Chamber Music for Bassoon & Strings (Island)


Composer: Franz Krommer; Johann Nepomuk Hummel
  • (01) Krommer - Bassoon Quartet in B flat major, Op. 46 No. 1
  • (05) Krommer - Bassoon Quartet in E flat major, Op. 46 No. 2
  • (09) Hummel - String Trio in G major

Jane Gower, bassoon
Antoinette Lohmann, viola
Galina Zinchenko, viola
Jennifer Morsches, cello

Date: 2009
Label: Ars Produktion



Island is a period-instrument ensemble that specializes in music for bassoon, two violas, and cello—not as obscure a combination as you might expect. The two quartets on this disc by Franz Krommer (1759–1831), a woodwind specialist, deploy the ensemble very effectively. Bassoonist Jane Gower provides this description in her good liner notes: “As all of Krommer’s superlative wind music, the quartets Op. 46 are highly instrumentally idiomatic and often virtuosic. They exploit the full three-octave range of the period bassoon to dramatic effect, use a full palette of tonal colors and textures, and feature many different effects at which the bassoon excels: running staccato figures, wide intervallic leaps, as well as soaring tenor cantabile lines.” These compositions are equivalent to the quatour brillant of the period, associated with the likes of Viotti and Spohr, with its flashy writing for first violin. Here, though, the bassoon takes the principal role, without forcing the other instruments to fall into neglect; the first viola’s part is nearly as demanding as the bassoon’s.

The better-known Johann Nepomuk Hummel wrote a fairly popular bassoon concerto, but that reed instrument is absent from the trio at hand; the unusual two-viola plus cello scoring seems to be authentic. Typically for this composer, it’s a light, enjoyable work, with Mozart quotations in the finale.

I’ve not heard the competing recordings of this music, but Island’s accounts complement the scores perfectly: secure and good-natured despite the inherently dark instrumental coloring. The musicians demonstrate that period instruments need not produce scrawny tone, and their blending of lines is very good, even though the aural perspective is close for the strings, while the bassoon seems to be a bit more distant and positioned toward the right. That noted, the DSD audio quality is as fine as it should be, and this disc will serve you well if you’re interested in the period or the bassoon.

-- James Reel, FANFARE


Franz Krommer (27 November 1759 in Kamenice u Jihlavy – 8 January 1831 in Vienna) was a Czech violinist and composer of classical music. He was a violinist in the orchestra of the duke of Styria, and Maestro di Cappella for Duke Ignaz Fuchs, before succeeding Leopold Kozeluch as composer for the Imperial Court of Austria (from 1813 until his death in 1831). Krommer's output was prolific, with at least 300 published compositions in at least 110 opus numbers, including at least 9 symphonies, 70 string quartets, 15 string quintets, and many works for wind ensemble, for which he is best known today.


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  2. Hi Ronald, Is it possible to contact you through your other blog, classicalmjourney? I noticed yesterday that two of your recordings there - Weinberg and Freeman - did not upload properly; they both show a file size of 108 KB. Sorry to contact you here, but I didn't see an option on the other site. Thank you so much!

  3. muchas gracias, ronald do, por esta excelente colección de música de franz krommer. saludos cordiales