1

== Crossposted from Music.SE as the question was deemed more appropriate for this site by a user with lots of rep ==

Consider this Harnoncourt recording of: Johannespassion, BWV 245, Part 1: "Herr, unser Herrscher". I can't figure out if the very low notes at the very beginning are played by a (contra)basoon or a contrabass (or both). I don't know how to figure this out since there's is no guarantee that Harnoncourt adhered to the instrumentation of any sheet music of this piece that I can find. To me, the first note really sounds like a string being played, while the other ones could also be a woodwind instrument playing.

I'd be grateful for anyone with a more precise ear than me and even more for someone with a source for the correct answer of this question.

Kind regards

1
  • 1
    If you look at the score (Bärenreiter Urtext) from imslp.org you can see that the bass line at the beginning is played by cellos, bassoons, contrabassoon ('bassono grosso'), organ and contrabass ('violone'). Note: Bach didn't add the contrabassoon until his 1749 revision of the piece.
    – PiedPiper
    May 12 at 13:50
4

There is one bassoonist in the personnel list, who is credited as playing both bassoon and contrabassoon. Obviously, he wasn't playing both at the same time. There are also two players credited as playing violone (contrabass).

I haven't listened to the whole recording yet, but the likeliest movements to include the contrabassoon are those for the full orchestra, including the opening.

there's is no guarantee that Harnoncourt adhered to the instrumentation of any sheet music of this piece that I can find.

Indeed, there wasn't any expectation in Bach's day that a bassoon or contrabassoon would play only if there were an explicit "bassoon" part. The "bassi" or "continuo" could be played by whatever appropriate bass instruments were available.

1

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.