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Richard Danielpour

Publisher: AMP

Feast of Fools - Concertino for Bassoon and String Quartet (1998)
Associated Music Publishers Inc
Small Ensemble (2-6 players)
Sub Category
Mixed Ensemble
Year Composed
16 Minutes
Solo Instrument(s)
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Programme Note
Richard Danielpour Feast of Fools - Concertino for Bassoon and String Quartet (1998)

Feast of Fools, subtitled Concertino for Bassoon and String Quartet, is a work in four movements. The “Fools” of the title are the holy fools of French Carneval who are permitted to speak truth without suffering any personal consequences. The fool -or trickster - is an archetype who appears in the literature and mythology of many cultures. The parenthetical titles of the movements hint at a subtext in which the fool interacts with other mythical beings: an Ice Princess and a serpent (the cobra in eastern mythology often represents death, at whom the jester appears to be thumbing his nose in the final movement).

Richard told me from the outset that he anticipated the piece would be somewhat traditional in form, though utilizing modern tonal and rhythmic materials. In its final (or at least current) incarnation it is about eighteen minutes long. The opening movement is quite slow with the bassoon an expressive and declamatory voice over the more serene and flowing string group. It opens and closes with a gorgeous canon. The second movement is a scherzo - a la Beethoven or Haydn, perhaps. The third movement is again quite slow, with the bassoon doing more playing as part of the ensemble than in previous movements, at least initially. The final movement is a rondo, quite classical really, under its exotic surface. The music fairly dances off the page in the two fast movements and the slow movements are nothing short of beautiful.

— Stephen Walt
August, 1998

A fine way to celebrate success is with new art. The Williamstown Chamber Concerts opened its second decade of performances playing the world premiere of a commissioned work of celebration: Feast of Fools -- Concertino for Bassoon and String Quartet by Richard Danielpour, a composer [who is] a hot commodity these days. Feast of Fools is a light-hearted divertimento-style piece. Though it has its serious moments, it is essentially summer music that recalls Danielpour's childhood days when he confused the word "buffoon" with the word "bassoon." Each of the movements has a traditional Italian marking establishing the tempo and mood of the movement as well as a little subtitle about the "fool" of the title, a jester like the one in Shakespeare's King Lear, who can tell the truth without fear of serious punishment. The opening movement, marked largo e calmo (the jester ponders the meaning of life), brought the lyric side of the bassoon to the fore, though not so much as a soloist but as an integrated member of the ensemble. The final movement, marked con moto, ben misurato (the Jester and company charm and tame the great serpent [Death]), was the most powerful of the four movements. Walt played the difficult score with relish and wit. The audience cheered Walt and the Muir, and Feast of Fools.
Ron Emery, Albany-Times Union,01/01/0001
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