The Double Reed Review of Tchaikovsky/Plumeri/Moscow by Ronald Klimko
Johnterryl Plumeri: Concerto for Bassoon and Orchestra, Kenneth Pasmanick, bassoon; Moscow Philharmonic, Johnterryl Plumeri, conductor. GMMC Records 735-2
This is the latest creative performance from bassoonist Kenneth Pasmanick, recently "retired" from the principal bassoon chair of the National Symphony of Washington, DC, after over fifty years of distinguished service. To hear his beautiful performance on this CD is to understand how he was so able to hold this position for that length of time! It is a brand new and significant work for the bassoon from the pen of Johnterryl Plumeri, who himself served for many years as a bassist with the NSO. In Ken's own words, it is a very "listenable" work. The words "user friendly" also might apply.
Plumeri has a wonderful gift for lyricism, and this work has a considerable amount of it. The opening solo by the bassoon is a particularly lovely theme. This is followed by an extended allegro section that climaxes dramatically and leads to an exciting cadenza that ends lyrically and serves to connect to the final adagio featuring the bassoon-lyrical again in the upper register. The entire Concerto is a nonstop 19 minutes and 33 seconds in length. In its beauty and romantic quality one is reminded of Samuel Barber, or, more closely to the bassoon, the wonderful recent Concerto for bassoon by Ellen Zwilich. Structurally, I found the final adagio to be somewhat of an unconvincing ending to the work, however. The passage work for the bassoon in the allegro also has a fundamentally lyrical, slurred character to it, and I would have wished for a lighter, more varied final movement or section to contrast with the lyricism everywhere else.
Having said that, however, the Concerto is still a wonderful vehicle for showing the singing, gentle qualities of the bassoon, especially in the high register. It is also a pleasure to have another beautiful recording featuring the gorgeous playing of Ken Pasmanick.
The only other selection on the CD is a very nice interpretation of the Tchaikovsky Symphony #6 in b minor (Pathetique). The overall recording quality of the CD is a little "distant". The bassoon rings clearly but doesn't always balance well with the overall dynamics of the recording-it was necessary to turn the volume down at times, having turned it up to hear the bassoon better. Overall, however, I recommend the CD to you; the Concerto is a wonderful lyrical addition to our bassoon repertoire, and Ken gives us a superior interpretation of it here!
Rating: 2 1/2 Crows
By Ronald Klimko