Red Maple, Music for Bassoon and Strings is the new album from Peter Kolkay, recently released on Bridge Records and available everywhere. Recorded with the Calidore String Quartet and Estelle Choi, cello, the collection includes works by contemporary composers Joan Tower, Russell Platt, Mark-Anthony Turnage, and Judith Weir.
“This album is the culmination of a 10-year project to develop and record contemporary repertoire for bassoon and strings by some of today’s most important living composers,” said Kolkay, Blair associate professor of bassoon. “The four pieces are all receiving their premiere recordings in their present versions on this album.”
Peter Kolkay provided this exclusive commentary on the four works featured in the Red Maple project:
Joan Tower’s piece was premiered as a concerto in 2013—the first full calendar year I was at Vanderbilt—and was subsequently the composer came to campus for a performance with the Vanderbilt Symphony Orchestra. Tower later reduced the performing forces to just bassoon and string quartet, and that is the version recorded here.
Mark-Anthony Turnage’s work was commissioned by Vanderbilt (as part of a Chancellor’s Faculty Fellowship) with assistance of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center; I premiered it at Lincoln Center with the Calidore Quartet (the quartet on the album) and subsequently performed it at Blair with the Blair String Quartet.
Russell Platt’s work was actually written in 1999 for the principal bassoonist of the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra; I discovered the work a few years later and have performed it numerous times throughout the United States, most recently at Weill Hall at Carnegie Hall in New York. Russell is also a member of the adjunct faculty at Vanderbilt.
Judith Weir’s piece is for bassoon and cello alone, and I have always been taken with the piece and the combination of instruments. It was written for the Conference of the International Double Reed Society in 2009, and is inspired by a poem by Sir Walter Scott.