Sunday, April 29, 2012

The PdK Eichentopf, first half of the 18th C.

This post is the sixth in a series under the tag "Baroque Bassoon". Click here to see all of the posts under this tag.

The PdK/Eichentopf
An instrument which has been in high demand for the past few years, the waiting list for the Peter de Koningh Eichentopf has been a long one. Though few baroque bassoons have survived in good condition, the two J.H. Eichentopf instruments in Nuremberg and Prague have weathered the ages better than most. Interestingly, a few have mentioned to me that the two originals "weren't that great", but the copy produced from the workshop in Hall shows no sign of any possible defects in the originals.

The instrument's walls are quite thick which give it a bit more of the 'cannon' feel common to those trying new Heckel instruments. This instrument, like the HKICW and Prudent, also features an 'innie' low Eb key.

This instrument is probably the most recognizable as the original has been copied by many makers. Also, this particular model is used heavily by one of the most visible bassoonists, Sergio Azzolini. This video features him and Ensemble L'aura soave in a performance of the Fasch Sonata in C Major.

*Since June 2012 this has been my primary instrument.
The 'innie' low Eb key

Friday, April 27, 2012

The Wolf/HKICW, c.1700

This post is the fifth in a series under the tag "Baroque Bassoon". Click here to see all of the posts under this tag.

Wolf/HKICW a415
Photo courtesy of
Hayley Pullen
A widely popular instrument, the HKICW is in use by most North American bassoonists. The original, a typical  'fancy table leg' design of late 17th century bassoons, survives in only three parts: the boot, the bell, and the long joint.  Found in former East Germany by William Waterhouse, the instrument was copied by Guntram Wolf Holsblasinstrumente in Kronach. The copy features a wing joint and bocal designed by Mr. Wolf which settles the instrument at a415. There is also an a392 version.

Unlike most baroque bassoon workshops, the Wolf shop keeps a continuous production of the instrument, almost eliminating wait times on orders. *2013: It should be noted that Guntram Wolf has, sadly, passed away. However, his factory continues to produce the instrument.

The recording below is of American bassoonist Dominic Teresi performing a concerto by fasch for two oboes and bassoon with the Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra.

Stay tuned for the next instrument, a copy by Peter de Koningh of an instrument by J.H. Eichentopf.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The W. Milhouse, c.1800

This post is the fourth in a series under the tag "Baroque Bassoon". Click here to see all of the posts under this tag.

W. Milhouse a415
An instrument with a very interesting history, it landed into my lap soon after I took my first course in the baroque bassoon three years ago. Though it was originally intended to play at a higher pitch, somewhere around a425, the instrument was modified and given a long bocal made by Guntram Wolf settling it at a415. The instrument was owned by Robin Howell, who restored the instrument, before it came into my hands.

Though it is an instrument of the 'classical' era, Milhouse was modeling it on an older instrument, as attested to by graphs produced by Matthew Dart of several English bassoons by the Stanesby and Milhouse families. Though William had made advancements in the design of the wing joint, my instrument came with a copy of a Stanesby Sr. wing which suits the instrument quite nicely.

The original wing and boot joint show markings of keys which were once placed on the instrument. The original holes have been sealed with wax and the posts stripped, their seats glued up.

To many, the instrument looks like it came out of a Mary Shelley novel, but, take it from me, it doesn't play the way it looks.

Note the heavy usage of the E hole
and the markings of what used to be
an F# key
The 'outie' low Eb key

Stay tuned for the next instrument, a copy by Guntram Wolf of a bassoon marked "HKICW".

Monday, April 23, 2012

Concert Review: Ottawa's Best Kept Secret?

The Ottawa Baroque Consort with special guest Liv Nordskog

"The North Star"

Southminster United Church, 15 Aylmer Avenue, Ottawa

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Saturday night's performance by The Ottawa Baroque Consort was quite the evening's entertainment.

The quartet was joined by Norwegian soprano Liv Nordskog who sang works by Handel, Purcell, and Pergolesi, in addition to works by Telemann and Bertouch performed by the Consort.

The Orriols/Wietfeld, first half of the 18th C.

This post is the third in a series under the tag "Baroque Bassoon". Click here to see all of the posts under this tag.

Orriols/Wietfeld a415 
An instrument which has only been in production a few years, the Orriols/Wietfeld instrument is in high demand across Europe. Having recently been found in the back of a church in Poland, the instrument quickly made its way to Spain, where it has remained in the hands of the Bonair workshop.

Though much information about the maker is unknown, the instrument is of a design very similar to those German instruments which have survived from the second quarter of the 18th century (Eichentopf, Scherer, etc.). Interestingly, the instrument has an Eb key which is placed on the other side of the long joint, to be used by the left hand little finger (uncommon for bassoons at the time).

It being a new instrument, the Orriols/Wietfeld hasn't appeared in a major recording yet (to my knowledge), but I have found a live performance of Carles Cristobal (who discovered the original instrument) playing a Vivaldi concerto for bassoon. It is very likely he's playing the Wietfeld.

The little finger Eb key

Stay tuned for the next instrument, an original W. Milhouse, c.1800.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

The Cottet/Bizey, first half of 18th C.

This post is the second in a series under the tag "Baroque Bassoon". Click here to see all of the posts under this tag.

Cottet/Bizey a415
Photo courtesy of
Karim Nasr
Also originating in Paris, Charles Bizey was the master to Prudent, who eventually took over the shop at the rue Daulphine. Both master and apprentice used the fleur-de-lis to stamp their instruments. Some two hundred and fifty years later, the workshop of Olivier Cottet continues the Parisian instrument-making tradition.

A popular instrument in France today, the Bizey instrument seems to be more or less confined there. However, two instruments have crossed the pond and have settled in the Montreal area. These instruments, owned by Karim Nasr and Mathieu Lussier, haven't yet been in heavy use, though they are making their way onto the scene. I will be playing Mathieu's instrument at the Festival International de Musique Baroque de Lamèque this summer.

The video below features Laurent Le Chenadec on the Cottet/Bizey

Cottet/Bizey a392

Stay tuned for the next instrument, a copy by Pau Orriols of an instrument by Wietfeld.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The PdK/Prudent Thierrot, c.1770

This post is the first in a series under the tag "Baroque Bassoon". Click here to see all of the posts under this tag.

PdK/Prudent a415
Photo courtesy of
 Mathieu Lussier
One of the most popular instruments of the early music revival, the Peter de Koningh/Prudent instrument has been featured on countless recordings and was the instrument of choice during the '80s and '90s. The original hailing from 1760s/70s Paris, more and more bassoonists are switching off the instrument in favour of other, more 'authentic' (their words, not mine!), instruments. Despite this, the instrument is still a hot commodity.

Though it hasn't much of a foothold in North America, there are still a few scattered across the continent. Lucky for me, my teacher Mathieu owns one and was able to easily provide me with a picture.

Though the clip I am linking to doesn't really feature the instrument, it has such an all-star cast that I couldn't pass it up.

Stay tuned for the next instrument, a copy by Olivier Cottet of an instrument by Bizey.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Popular Baroque Bassoons

Over the next few weeks, I will be doing individual posts about baroque bassoons which are being played both in Europe and North America. Each post will have at least one photo, a description of its owner, and some areas in which you'll find it. The series will be tagged "Baroque Bassoon".

To those baroque bassoonists out there:

If you play an instrument other than the ones listed below and are interested in taking part, I would be happy to do a post on your model, so long as it isn't one of those old Levin Stanesbys or an original. I apologize to those Levin/Stanesby lovers out there.

From the material I have, there will definitely be posts on the:

PdK Eichentopf
PdK Prudent
Orriols Wietfeld
Cottet Bizey
My W. Milhouse Original

Monday, April 16, 2012

Tafelmusik Goes Independent

Over the past month, the folks behind the scenes at Tafelmusik have begun the initial stages of running their own music label. Giving the organization total control over the production and direction of new recordings, as well as all of the profit, Tafelmusik is just one of many orchestras, both modern and baroque, who are switching to the independent model. Two orchestras running their own label which immediately spring to mind are Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra in San Francisco as well as the Toronto Symphony Orchestra.

Though Tafelmusik hails their creation, Tafelmusik Media, as 'cutting-edge', I would argue it is more a symbol of the times. With major label contracts costing artists too much money and giving them a slim chance of return on investment, performance organizations with the proper infrastructure are making a go of it themselves. Thanks to the internet, anything is possible these days.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

I saw the Angel in the Marble...

Pygmalion and Galatea by Jean-Léon Gérôme

New baroque opera company to present inaugural performance April 13 and 14, at the Rialto Theatre, Montreal.

...and carved until I set it free.

It seems Montreal is never short of enterprising artists. 

Next week, the Collectif Baroque Mont-Royal will present its first production, complete with baroque orchestra: Rameau's acte de ballet, Pygmalion. An ambitious undertaking for the two directors, David Menzies and Susan Toman, who have been chipping away since the summer; Pygmalion will be fully-staged and will be accompanied by its own baroque orchestra.

Any copyrighted material on these pages is included as "fair use", for the purpose of study, review or critical analysis only, and will be removed at the request of copyright owner(s).