Celebrating 40 years! 1983-2023

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Of Breath and Touch - BSN/PN

Composer: Shapiro, Alex

Publisher: Alex Shapiro

Edition: 57793


Of Breath and Touch
for bassoon and piano
by Alex Shapiro (b. 1962) - American composer


At the time I began composing Of Breath and Touch, I happened to be listening to the works by the French composers Ravel, Debussy, and Satie, as well as to traditional music from Egypt and Turkey. There are unexpected parallels in the types of minor scales used by each country's musicians, as well as between the disparate cultures' use of reed instruments. The bassoon is remarkably well suited for some of the long, floating melody lines that are often heard in Middle Eastern music.

While I couldn't easily explore the region's microtonality in a duet that strongly features the all-too-well tempered piano, I did reference the driving rhythms of some Middle Eastern music in a hypnotic and ostinatic piano part that's fun to play, and the double reed writing showcases the extraordinary range and tone of the bassoon in the hands of a fine player. The result is a uniquely American piece that is informed by other cultures. The title refers to the nature of each instrument, as well as to a more sensual pair of pleasures. 

The piece was composed especially for Carolyn Beck, an extraordinary bassoonist who commissioned me to write something for her after she played my "Evensong Suite" so beautifully earlier in the year. 

Duration: 10:00