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‘Humoresque’ for solo bassoon was completed in January 2009, and this short tour de force for the ‘clown of the orchestra’ exploits the humorous nature of the instrument, whilst exploring its full register.
Structured in a simple A B A1 form, the outer sections are highly chromatic (loosely centred around the note Bb, but eschewing a sense of key) and there are many changes of time signature, giving it a highly rhythmic energy.
The brief central section is more reflective and is a free development of a motif heard in bars 30 to 35. It is an eighteen-note ‘theme’ which is subjected serially to four variations in a quasi-waltz style.
The sections are joined with a hesitant quaver figure, which is first heard in bar 19.
The piece was commenced in Valletta, overlooking Marsamxett harbour in Malta. Parts were written in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysian Borneo, overlooking the South China Sea, and parts in Kuching, Sarawak, overlooking the Kuching River, before being completed in Harringworth, UK (‘overlooking’ the gardening).
Humoresque was transcribed for solo saxophone in 2017.