Richard Lambert Music

Sonata for bassoon and piano (Op.36)

A sonata for bassoon and piano in three movements, with a mix of modal, atonal and diatonic styles

The Sonata for bassoon and piano was commenced in 2009, and completed in October 2011. It is dedicated to Miriam Butler. Lasting about 13 minutes, it has three movements: Vivo – Larghetto - Allegretto con spirito.

The first movement is free-ranging tonally, continually developing the initial bassoon material — a neo-Baroque motif with prominent use of a minor seventh interval. The time signature is continually changing, predominantly between 2/4 and 3/8, to give a highly-charged rhythmic, and perhaps unsettled, effect.

The central movement is expressive, melancholy and desolate. The rhythm is more regular here — largely a steady 6/8 flow, but harmonically, the highly chromatic style is almost atonal to enhance this forlorn atmosphere. The movement explores the entire range of the bassoon, and the piano accompaniment converses contrapuntally, sharing the numerous motifs with the bassoon. It concludes plaintively with reiterations of the bassoon’s initial four notes.

The finale reverts to a more relaxed, and uplifting, mood. The bassoon’s initial scalic motif also has a mock Baroque flavour. This originates from a solitary piano figure (bar 202) in the first movement. In fact, these outer movements have numerous melodic and harmonic links to consolidate a sense of overall organic shape. Ultimately, the whole movement derives from its very first bar, and constantly develops this material.


  1. 5 October 2012 at the International North Cyprus Music Festival, Bellepais Monastery, near Kyrenia, by Miriam Butler (bassoon) and the composer (piano)
  2. 6 October 2012 at the Karmi (Karaman) village church, near Kyrenia, North Cyprus, by Miriam Butler (bassoon) and the composer (piano) — third movement only.
  3. 1 October 2017 at the Tateuchi Hall at the Community Hall for Music and the Arts, Mountain View, San Jose CA 94040. Matt Volkar (bassoon), Melody Fu (piano).


"In a rare treat, visiting composer Richard Lambert played three movements of his original Sonata with bassoonist Miriam Butler, for whom the piece was written. This world premiere saw the pianist accompany the sinuous notes of the woodwind with a tip top accompaniment in an accomplished, light and very English performance much appreciated by the audience. It was a privilege to watch such a modest, skilful and relaxed duet."

Anne Canalp, Cyprus Today 10 Oct 2012

"...very beautiful music. I am very interested in playing this sonata."

Antonio Aray, Caracas, Venezuela. Sept 2014

"I listened to your piece and it looks like quite a unique and challenging piece."

Blaire K. S. Koerner, Rochester NY.  Sept 2014

"I find it very creative,charming and interesting. Certainly I'm going to consider performing it at some point."

Aleksandar Ranisavljev, 1st solo bassoon RTV Slovenia Symphony Orchestra. 5 Jan 2019



This recording of Sonata for bassoon and piano was produced using computer software called Sibelius: it is not a live recording.


You can view and purchase the score of Sonata for bassoon and piano from Forton Music

If you wish to listen to the piece on that website, select the ‘MP3 file’ link instead of playing the embedded score for better audio quality.

Like this? Try these