Harmonic & Structural Analysis of Marcel Bitsch, Concertino Pour Basson Et Piano

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TMU302H1 Harmonic & Structural Analysis of Marcel Bitsch, concertino pour basson et piano

Marcel Bitsch composed his Concertino pour basson et piano in 1948 prior to accepting the position of teaching counterpoint at the Paris Conservatoire from 1956 to 1988. It is an exciting piece written using the chromatic scale containing two movements. The piece in its entirety is very animated and neotonal, often using non-functional chord progressions and leaving dissonant chords unresolved. Although the tonal centre is unstable and hard to tell, the overall tonal centre lies around D, with the first movement taking place in a key signature consisting only of Bb which suggests D minor and the second movement with F# and C#, suggesting D major. The movements contrast not only in technical difficulty and feel, but also in instrumental roles and form.

First Movement: Andante

Overall structure: ternary

|m. 1 to 15, (15 bars) |m. 16 to 45, (30 bars) |m. 46 to 59, (14 bars) | |Section A: theme 1 in bassoon, strong |Section B: theme 2 in piano then bassoon, |Section A: theme 1 returns in bassoon | |implications of D as tonal centre |strong implications of F as tonal centre |transposed up a perfect 5th and ends with a | | | |cadenza leading directly into the second | | | |movement without a break |

The first movement takes place in ternary form. For the first fifteen bars the accompaniment in the piano involves straightforward repeated solid chords with very smooth voice leading as each chord contains at least one common voice with the chord preceding it. The bass notes of each chord also spell out a descending line in stepwise and mostly chromatic motion, similar to the voice leading technique in the first movement of Beethoven’s Waldstein sonata.

Although tonal centres throughout this piece are often obscured by unresolved chords (mostly 7ths and 9ths), the key signature of the first movement contains only a B-flat, which together with the repeating D minor chord for the first four measures in the accompaniment, suggest a tonal centre of D. When examined more closely, however, one will find that there are several smaller sections within the first movement based around other tonal centres. From measure 5 to 9, the listener may perceive G# to be the tonal centre since it is repeated more than any other pitch in these four bars. Measures 11 to 15 contain almost no accidentals and use the following chord progression:

F7 ( G minor 9 ( D minor 9 ( G minor 9 ( C b9

The C b9 chord is followed by an F minor 7 chord at letter A (m. 16) suggesting F as the tonal centre. However, it is interesting to note that it supports a broken A7 chord in the bassoon line. Because A7 shares three out of four common pitches with C b9, it may sound to the listener as if it all takes place in C b9 with A as a non-chord note. Bitsch could have just as easily written a D-flat instead of C-sharp in the bassoon part to make it all one unified C b9 chord, however he specifically spells it as A7 perhaps to suggest a temporary bitonality of D and F.

At letter A, this section becomes increasingly chromatic as Bitsch starts using split member chords and added notes. He also uses more traditional devices here such as descending fifth sequences on E-A-D-G-C (m. 21 to 25) and A-D-G (m. 26 to 28). Theme 2 is introduced in the piano but occurs back and forth between the piano and bassoon creating a call and response dialogue. The first eight bars of the melody (m. 16 to 23) occur in the piano followed by the bassoon taking over melodic content of...
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