Introduction to Böddecker's "La Monica"Sonata by Terry B. Ewell. This includes a discussion of the Universal/Waterhouse edition and considerations for performing the work. BDP #343.

[music: Ewell's version of the opening to Böddecker's Sonata]

Hello this is Terry Ewell. I am so pleased that the International Double Reed Society has included the Böddecker Sonata as a selection for the Gillet/Fox competition on Bassoon in 2022. I had planned to perform the work and produce a few videos on the work during the 2020 COVID period, but I didn’t have the time to complete them. Seeing the piece on the list, however, has prompted me to quickly present a couple of videos to help those preparing for the competition.

This video will present an overview of the Sonata and the next video will focus on ways in which to perform and practice the difficult meter change in the third variation.

Let’s begin with a close look at the introduction to the Universal Edition of the work by William Waterhouse. William Waterhouse is one of the greatest scholars we have had performing the bassoon and his notes are very important for this work.
Notice that Böddecker wrote the Sonata as a chamber work for violin, bassoon, and continuo. Continuo is a group of instruments, which would include harpsichord and cello or harpsichord and bass. It was not composed originally for just bassoon and piano.

In the Universal edition, the piano part has double duty providing the continuo line in the left hand with some harmonies in the left and right and the “La Monica” melody in the upper voice in the right hand. The bassoon part originally starts on the upbeat to measure 13 but in this version provides the melody in the beginning.
I hope that someday you will be able to perform the version as originally conceived. It is marvelous that way! The violin would play the “La Monica” melody throughout the work with the bassoon providing an elaborate accompaniment. The continuo—cello and harpsichord—would then perform the bass line and the harpsichord would provide the additional harmonies. I have provided some accompaniments on that give my version of the Sonata with violin and continuo. I hope that you enjoy that.

Böddecker’s Sonata is one of the earliest works written for bassoon and it comes from the Baroque period. As is the case with works from that period you will need to consider to what extent you want to recognize performance practices at the time. Will you perform with vibrato, for instance? Bassoonists that that time did not make use of the continual vibrato we associate with bassoon performance today. My preference for Baroque period works is to shape notes through dynamics and articulation than vibrato.

Another question: will you provide ornamentation? Most Baroque works expected added diminutions or ornaments supplied by the performer. In this work, however, with the rhythmic complexities and saturation of 16th and 32nd notes there are just a few opportunities for ornaments. Places to consider ornamentation would be during repetitions of the melody in the opening. Also, you could consider ornaments in the repetitious figures such as those in mm. 52-53, 55-59; and several areas in Variation IV, which is measures 85-102.

One characteristic of Baroque performance practice is that each performer was expected to bring something unique to the performance. In addition to those items mentioned above, articulations in the work provide great opportunity for self-expression. 

The Facsimile page provides the music starting in measure 88 and ending in measure 110. Notice that not a single articulation mark is included in the solo part in the facsimile, the original music. In his forward, Waterhouse notes that articulations in the solo part of the Universal edition are given by him. You should feel free to perform with different articulations, provided that they meet practices of the Baroque period.

For instance, in measures 80-82 Waterhouse provides articulations with two slurred and two tongued notes, which is more of a Classical than Baroque articulation. I prefer three slurred and one tongued in those areas with three stepwise notes. In the Baroque period it is more common to slur adjacent notes particularly three notes together.

You should consider varying the articulation in measures 52-60. For instance, alternating measures with staccato notes with slurs from the 16ths to the dotted 8ths are a possible idea. Even without ornamentation added, this provides some extra interest to a section that is rather unimaginative.

I have already created many materials that could aid you in the performance of this and other Baroque works. There are links to dozens of videos, instructions on ornamentation, sample cadenzas, and a few of my performance editions for Baroque music. Please have a look at or further information.

[music: Ewell's version of the opening to Böddecker's Sonata]