Antoine Dard was one of the many musicians who moved in the circles of the leading musical institutions of the French monarchy in the eighteenth century, being the First bassoon of the Royal Academy of Music in Paris, and the Grand hautbois de la Chambre et écuries du Roi in Versailles. Although no »forgotten genius« of music history, Mr Dard — as he signed all his scores — can certainly be considered a composer of special interest.
The following advertisement appeared in the Parisian press on the 11th of January, 1759: »6 sonatas for bassoon, composed by Mr Dard, very useful for those who would play this instrument well. It is said that these sonatas are unique amongst their kind, and can also be successfully played on the violoncello.« The pieces are remarkable both within Dard's body of work and the context of 18th-century music in general, but particularly as part of the specific bassoon repertoire. Dard uses the bassoon as though it were an operatic »bel canto« tenor, often employing the very high register, amongst other difficult techniques as no other composer of his time, or indeed long after, did. Even though the fingering tables for the bassoon include d'' or f'' from the second half of the 18th century onwards, the music of the period never calls for notes higher than g' or a', excepting the mysteriously elevated orchestral parts of Rameau and the infamous b'-flat of the Mozart concerto. But even these don't reach the same register as the sonatas. The high register would not become standard for sixty years after Dard, and only after innumerable improvements in instrument design. From a melodic point of view, thanks in part to the copious decoration, the bassoon part is very full and lyrical, and the mix of this ornamentation with the galant style produces a singular effect. Although, on the other hand, the structure of the works remains quite traditional, the slow movements exhibit an interesting formal feature: they are through-composed, without repeat or reprise, nearly approaching the arioso form, then not in use in France. Despite their marked French character, however, the sonatas also display a definite Italian influence. Dard would certainly have been familiar with the numerous works of Italian composers then in circulation in France.
Antoine Dard departed the Paris musical scene as discreetly as he had entered it. He leaves the impression of an orderly, straightforward man, well integrated with his surroundings, and far removed from the capricious virtuoso he could, given his abilities, undoubtedly have been.
On completing his bassoon studies with Noël Devos in his home city of Rio de Janerio - where he also studied guitar, viola da gamba, composition, conducting and architecture — RICARDO RAPOPORT joined the Symphony Orchestra of Brazil. In 1984 he moved to Paris to refine his playing with Maurice Allard at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique, where he was awarded a Premier Prix in bassoon. After completing a chamber music course with Maurice Bourgue, he received a French government grant to follow the Advanced Studies in Music programme at the Banff Center in Canada, concentrating on baroque bassoon. Since then, alongside his chamber-music and solo work, he performs and records regularly with various Early Music ensembles, such as Le Parlement de Musique, Les Musiciens du Louvre, La Petite Bande, Ensemble Baroque de Limoges, Ensemble Matheus and Le Concert Spirituel, among others. Ricardo Rapoport also has a passion for contemporary music, which he frequently performs, and has been involved in various contemporary premiere performances. He currently teaches bassoon, baroque bassoon and chamber music at the Conservatoire National de Région in Rennes, and is regularly invited to participate in festivals and masterclasses in both Europe and Brazil.
After having studied with Yannick Le Gaillard, PASCAL DUBREUIL graduated in both harpsichord and continuo at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique in Paris. He continued his studies through participation in masterclasses given by Kenneth Gilbert and, notably, Gustav Leonhardt, as well as studying orchestral conducting with Nicolas Brochot. He was a laureate of the Bruges International Music Competition in 1997. He appears in concerts and recordings throughout France and many other European countries both as soloist and with other chamber musicians, playing harpsichord, clavichord, organ or fortepiano, principally with the Bratislava baroque orchestra Musica Aeterna, Claire Michon, Patrick Ayrton, François Fernandez and Bruno Boterf, and as continuo player with vocal ensembles such as Ensemble Vocal de l'Abbaye aux Dames de Saintes and Sagittarius. He is regularly invited to participate in festivals such as Printemps des Arts, Académies Musicales de Saintes, the Baroque Music Festival in Barcelona and the International Festival of Bratislava. Pascal Dubreuil teaches harpsichord and chamber music at the Conservatoire National de Région in Rennes, leading the Early Music department. He often serves as a member of the jury for examinations and teaches in seminars and master classes both in France and abroad. He also teaches chamber music and Baroque musical rhetoric at the Centre de Formation des Enseignants de la Danse et de la Musique in Poitiers.
Karine Sérafin, soprano
François Nicolet, transverse flute