Baroquemusic.it is a terrific resource! There are a few solo pieces for bassoon (including two Vivaldi concertos—RV501 and RV487—and the Boismortier concerto in D) and considerable chamber music with prominent bassoon parts (e.g. Zelenka trio sonata #5, ZWV 181). A special favorite of mine is Biagio Marini’s Affetti Musicali (1617) which features great early Baroque writing for bassoon. The scores are immaculate, many produced directly from manuscripts. MIDI files are included. We used the MIDI files for a concerto in Garageband to easily create a handy accompaniment (muting the solo track and adjusting the tempo) for practicing. The editions are also indexed and linked through IMSLP.
An early edition of Karl Jacobi’s Six Caprices op. 16 (1836) is available on IMSLP. These technical etudes are challenging, virtuosic, and enjoyable to play! The Caprices make great reading material, and they allow for ample expression in addition to requiring considerable technical facility. In his 1980 dissertation, A Biographical Dictionary of Bassoonists Born Before 1825, Woodrow Hodges explains that Karl (Carl) Jacobi was a bassoonist, composer, and teacher whose compositions were popular with bassoonists in the first half of the 19th century.
The repertoire for the preliminary stage of the International Double Reed Society Young Artist 2015 Bassoon Competition includes:
Jan Antonín Koželuh, Concerto in C Major (movement 1)
Camille Saint Saëns, Sonata for Bassoon and Piano (movement 3)
and, four of the 16 Waltzes for Solo Bassoon by Francisco Mignone (Pattapiada, Apanhei-te meu fagotinho, A Boa Páscoa Para Vocé Devos!, and Valsa-Choro)
Benjamin Coelho has written a very thorough article on the Mignone waltzes. He gives extensive historical background, stylistic information, and performance notes.
In 2001, Michael Burns wrote an article entitled, “Music Written for Bassoon by Bassoonists.” [Double Reed, vol. 24 no. 2] He identifies a number of accomplished bassoonists who were also composers—some writing music (etudes and solos) for their students, others composing concert music and chamber music. We are familiar with, for example, Julius Weissenborn (1837-1888), who was bassoon professor at the Leipzig Conservatory and prolific composer of etudes, short character pieces for bassoon and piano, and a delightful bassoon trio.
Two more recent bassoonist/composers who have made their music available on the web (either free or at very low cost) are Ray Pizzi and Robert Rønnes. Mr. Pizzi is an amazing jazz musician and spectacular bassoonist who has worked in Hollywood for many years. He was a student of Simon Kovar. Robert Rønnes is an acclaimed bassoonist who is principal bassoonist with the Stavanger Symphony Orchestra and teaches at the Norwegian Academy of Music in Oslo, Norway.
Who can resist Pizzi’s solo bassoon piece, Ode to a Toad, or Rønnes’ Dragon’s Teeth for bassoon and timpani?
There are at least two purposes for daily exercises: to perfect an etude for audition (lesson or other performance . . . ) or to maintain technique. It helps to read —through— etudes for a good/productive daily workout. Among my favorites are the Giampieri 16 Daily Studies. I especially like #4 for flexibility and agility—it can make a great daily warmup. I like to practice each pattern s-l-o-w-l-y first, then repeat with quicker tempo. Sometimes, multiple repetitions help to iron out the technical wrinkles.
The authoritative edition of Mozart’s bassoon concerto KV 191 is published by Bärenreiter with cadenzas by Jane Gower. One of the most popular performing editions was edited by Walter Guetter and is published by TrevCo. A classic edition is published by Universal, edited with cadenzas by Milan Turkovic. There are many editions and cadenzas available from TrevCo-Varner Music.
For recordings, the classics include Sherman Walt with the Boston Symphony, Klaus Thunemann with the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, Bernard Garfield with the Philadelphia Orchestra, Willard Elliot with the Chicago Symphony, Maurice Allard with the Mozart Academy Orchestra in Salzburg, and Leonard Sharrow with Toscanini and the NBC Symphony.
Danny Bond’s subtle classical bassoon version with the Academy of Ancient Music is a delight, as is Jane Gower’s elegant performance. Any chance to hear Concertgebouw, especially with the virtuoso Gustavo Núñez is essential. Frank Morelli recorded a crystal clear rendition with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. The consummate technique of the young David McGill with the Cleveland Orchestra is not to be missed. And, Dag Jensen is always a pleasure to hear.
Here are some iTunes links: