Pablo del Pozo (source/font: aquí)
Antoine Dard was one of the many musicians who moved in the circles of the leading musical institutions of the French monarchy in the eighteenth century, being the First bassoon of the Royal Academy of Music in Paris, and the Grand hautbois de la Chambre et écuries du Roi in Versailles. Although no »forgotten genius« of music history, Mr Dard — as he signed all his scores — can certainly be considered a composer of special interest. The following advertisement appeared in the Parisian press on the 11th of January, 1759: »6 sonatas for bassoon, composed by Mr Dard, very useful for those who would play this instrument well. It is said that these sonatas are unique amongst their kind, and can also be successfully played on the violoncello.« The pieces are remarkable both within Dard's body of work and the context of 18th-century music in general, but particularly as part of the specific bassoon repertoire. Dard uses the bassoon as though it were an operatic »bel canto« tenor, often employing the very high register, amongst other difficult techniques as no other composer of his time, or indeed long after, did.
Even though the fingering tables for the bassoon include d'' or f'' from the second half of the 18th century onwards, the music of the period never calls for notes higher than g' or a', excepting the mysteriously elevated orchestral parts of Rameau and the infamous b'-flat of the Mozart concerto. But even these don't reach the same register as the sonatas. The high register would not become standard for sixty years after Dard, and only after innumerable improvements in instrument design. From a melodic point of view, thanks in part to the copious decoration, the bassoon part is very full and lyrical, and the mix of this ornamentation with the galant style produces a singular effect. Although, on the other hand, the structure of the works remains quite traditional, the slow movements exhibit an interesting formal feature: they are through-composed, without repeat or reprise, nearly approaching the arioso form, then not in use in France. Despite their marked French character, however, the sonatas also display a definite Italian influence. Dard would certainly have been familiar with the numerous works of Italian composers then in circulation in France. Antoine Dard departed the Paris musical scene as discreetly as he had entered it. He leaves the impression of an orderly, straightforward man, well integrated with his surroundings, and far removed from the capricious virtuoso he could, given his abilities, undoubtedly have been.
RAMÉE (source/font: aquí)
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LAQUINTADEMAHLER: Dard - Basson Sonatas