Orchestral Duets for Play Testing and Fun

I occasionally blog for my day job at Midwest Musical Imports. I am pretty proud of this one, as short and simple as it is.


Whenever I have clients trying new instruments or related equipment, I’m often asked what musical material is good to use as testing passages. For bassoonists I often suggest playing duets from within the orchestral repertoire with the clarinet. Because the instruments have such different tonal characters and tendencies, it can be very revealing if your new bocal, mouthpiece, or instrument, is really giving you the ability to blend, play in tune, and come out of the texture as you need. Two bassoons have the same tendencies and can tend to blend well together, so it’s a less revealing pairing to test with. Since the bassoon and clarinet traditionally sit next to each other in the orchestra, it’s the most logical pairing compared to oboe or flute.

Here is a list of excerpts, mostly Beethoven, that showcase the bassoon and clarinet together that can be useful for your instrument testing. These shouldn’t be too technically challenging, so you can really focus on listening and adjusting to your colleague. All of these pieces are available for free download at http://www.IMSLP.org.

Beethoven Symphony 2
Mvnt 2 – Soli after E until end of movement

Beethoven Symphony 3
Mvnt 1 – Letter V to the end

Beethoven Symphony 4
Mvnt 3 – Rehearsal C – D

Beethoven Symphony 6
Mvnt 1 – Exposition
Mvnt 2 – Opening phrase

Beethoven Symphony 7
Mvnt 2 – Theme in A major (such as at letter D)

Beethoven Symphony 9
Mvnt 3 – Adagio at bar 83-120

Beethoven Piano Concerto 5
Mvnt 1 – Around bar 540
Mvnt 2 – bars 60-80

Tchaikovsky Symphony 5
Mvnt 1 – Opening of exposition & Letter Y

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