Lussier: Chamber Music For Winds & Piano

Album cover art for upc 722056265720
Label: ATMA
Catalog: ACD2 2657
Format: CD


Wholenote Discoveries - September 2011
Bassoonist and composer Mathieu Lussier’s compositions here feature wind instruments and piano in various combinations, some conventional and others unusual. Lussier writes fluently and eclectically for winds in solo and chamber music that has won support of major performers. His works align with the French neoclassical woodwind tradition, and add distinctive touches. I particularly like his Sextet for wind quintet and contrabassoon, a concise three-movement work in which the contrabassoon provides both weight and wit! Lussier plays and conducts early music, and a baroque influence is noticeable. It shows up in harmonic progressions and in the presence of the siciliano and chaconne, for example. Also, there are popular elements along with the baroque; after all, repeated chord progressions in pop songs can be compared to the ground bass which appears in the last movement of the Sextet and in Passages for bassoon and piano. In the White Rock Sonata syncopation provides a rhythmic spark to the earlier style. The latter two works show Lussier himself to be an expressive and technically facile bassoon soloist. I am also particularly taken with clarinettist Martin Carpentier’s performance of the Introduction and Sicilienne. In fact the wind soloists are all of high calibre, including also flautist Danièle Bourget, oboe d’amore player Normand Forget, alto saxophonist Claudia Schaetzle, French horn player Louis-Philippe Marsolais, and contrabassoonist Fraser Jackson. Finally, Louise Lessard’s exemplary pianism not only accompanies but periodically steers well-paced and convincing interpretations. Roger Knox
ATMA Classique presents Passages, a recording that reveals a different side of the internationally acclaimed Canadian bassoonist, Mathieu Lussier, who is also a gifted composer. Lussier is featured along with the Pentaèdre ensemble and guest artists playing his original works for chamber ensemble. Taking his cue from 18th century composers who wrote to enhance and augment the repertoire for their instruments, Lussier’s compositions are for the bassoon and other wind instruments. His catalogue includes nearly 30 works, and his compositions are regularly performed in North America. Several pieces composed by Lussier have been recorded by Toronto’s Caliban Quartet, and he has also received commissions from Montreal’s Ensemble des Idées Heureuses and Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra. His «Five Caprices for Bassoon» were recorded by basoonist Nadina Mackie, and were the subject of a master class at the prestigious Curtis Institute of Philadelphia. Lussier’s most recent release on ATMA Classique — Summer Music with Pentaèdre — features works by 20th century and contemporary composers including Samuel Barber, Denis Plante and Lussier himself. Summer Music was well received and was praised as “… a charming collection of music for wind quintet performed by a group that plays with finesse and great technical prowess …” (Fanfare) Lussier is principal bassoon with many Canadian ensembles including Ensemble Arion (Montreal), Les Violons du Roy (Quebec City) and Apollo’s Fire (Cleveland). He plays frequently with groups such as Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra (Toronto) and at the Boston Early-Music festival. He is also active as a chamber musician as a member of Ensemble Pentaèdre (of which he is the founder), the Caliban Quartet and Musica Franca. Lussier’s performances have been broadcast worldwide

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