Pascal Gallois: Solo
Few bassoonists could hope to match Pascal Gallois when it comes to his extending of an all too limited repertoire. The present disc brings together three pieces which he has inspired and championed, opening with Torsion (2005), in which Olga Neuwirth pits the instrument against a CD of ‘events’ that are variously antagonistic and provocative – resulting in a heightened monologue no less intense or imagistic than in her numerous stage- or mixed-media works.
The other works are by contemporaries whose electro-acoustic experiments often proceeded in parallel. Although conceived for clarinet, Boulez’s Dialogue de l’ombre double (1995) can be heard in several transcriptions – witness Erik Bosgraaf’s virtuoso reimagining for recorder (7/15) – and Gallois does not disappoint with a reading that underlines the music’s ritualistic fervour and its symmetrical poise, abetted by sensitive handling of the electronic component. Whereas Boulez is suggestive, Berio is playful – though playfulness in the latter’s Sequenza XII (1995) assumes any number of possibilities for expanding and, finally, transforming the bassoon’s essential character. Nor does one of the longest among this seminal instrumental series risk outstaying its welcome when the performance is attentive to its chimerical range of moods, with Gallois bringing out a capriciousness more than equal to its technical resource.
The sound has a spaciousness and focus such as presents these highly distinct works to best advantage, while the booklet-notes are informative without being technical. At 51 minutes there was room for another piece, but if this presages a follow-up from Gallois, so much the better.