Chandos signed Karen Geoghegan as an exclusive artist in 2007 following her appearance on BBC TV’s Classical Star programme. This is her fifth recording with the label, and the expressive maturity and sensitivity of her playing have quickly cemented her status as a rising star, Gramophone writing: ‘Name five internationally famous bassoon soloists. Archie Camden, Gwydion Brooke and, er, that’s it. Except I think we shall soon be adding the name of Karen Geoghegan to the roll call.’
On this album, she is accompanied by Philip Edward Fisher in works by some of the greatest composers of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries: Schubert, Schumann, Spohr, Rachmaninoff, and Elgar. Yet, with a single exception, namely the Sonata in E flat by Gustav Schreck, none of the works recorded here were originally composed for the bassoon.
One of Rachmaninoff’s best-loved short pieces, the Vocalise was written for wordless voice and piano. Demonstrating the capacities of the voice as a pure instrument, this work is a prime example of the power of melody without the need for words. In this arrangement, the bassoon takes on the role of ‘wordless voice’, which shows off the instrument’s great lyrical qualities to perfection, as does Elgar’s Salut d’amour.
Schumann’s Fantasiestücke was originally composed for clarinet and piano, its three pieces played without a break, with each subsequent piece taking up and developing melodic ideas from the preceding one. The Sonata in A minor, D 821 by Schubert, which remained unpublished and unperformed for decades after his death, is an emotionally complex work, its moods moving from deep melancholy to excited ebullience.