I’ve just received a new recording of pieces for bassoon and orchestra, played by Karen Geoghegan, accompanied by the Orchestra of Opera North (the orchestra I was a part of a long time ago now!). Karen Geoghegan was the runner-up in the BBC 2 programme Classical Star. I missed this but heard from a number of people how good she was. They weren’t exaggerating. Apparently, Chandos, the record label, phoned her the day after the Final asking her to make a CD. She is a stunning player!
I’m guessing that Karen can’t be older than twenty, as she is presently in her second year at the Royal Academy of Music, where already she’s won prizes and performed with the Academy String Orchestra. She is a genuine virtuoso for whom nothing sounds hard work - it’s all well within her competence, she's intensely musical and makes a gorgeous noise. The CD includes a concerto by Hummel, Weber’s Andante and Rondo Ungarese, Elgar’s Romance, and an arrangement of Summertime, by Gershwin which makes you swoon.
I read that one of the spin-off’s for Nicholas Daniel’s rise to fame through winning the BBC Young Musician of the Year in 1980, is that many new works have been composed for him and added to the oboe repertoire. I hope that the same happens for Karen, in turn benefiting all bassoonists.
In the sleeve-notes there is a great description of the bassoon as the Cinderella of woodwind instruments, rather than the clown of the orchestra. The bassoon is frequently called upon to play expressively and beautifully, and on this recording, amidst obvious humour there is much lyricism. I’m not sure I’m entirely taken by the association with Gorgonzola cheese, but let Cecil Gray speak for himself, ‘Actually the bassoon can be the most romantic and passionate of instruments and Gorgonzola can be the finest of cheeses – but they must both be treated properly.’
If all this sounds a bit of an anorak-ish – my apologies!