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Yucatán Symphony debuts the warm sounds of the contrabassoon

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The Yucatán Symphony Orchestra debuts a contrabassoon this Friday. Photo: Courtesy

Mérida, Yucatán — It’s ungainly and expensive, but worth it.

The warm, velvety sounds of a contrabassoon joins the brass, woodwinds and strings heard this season at the Yucatán Symphony Orchestra.

Having this instrument will give more color to the symphony sounds, being an octave lower than a regular bassoon, said Gustavo Adolfo Cornejo Martínez, the musician who will play the demanding instrument.

The German-made Mollenhauer instrument is constructed of maple wood and will expand the musical range possible from the bass section.

Its reeds are thicker and heavier, and the fingering is different. The contrabassoon’s lowest notes are the lowest of the orchestra.

The cost of the contrabassoon, about 450,000 pesos or US$25,000, is comparable to a grand piano, harp or an English horn.

Although its origins date to 16th-century England, its use increased in the 19th century.

Composers like Haydn used it in the classical period, as well as Ravel, Shostakovich, Prokofiev, Brahms and Beethoven — who calls for one in his Fifth Symphony.

The orchestra’s first program on Friday, Sept. 7 and Sunday, Sept. 9, includes “Balada del Venado y la Luna” by Carlos Jiménez Mabarak — a perfect vehicle for the double bassoon, or base bassoon, which it is also called.

The contrabassoon will also be featured in a solo performance during the season finale’s cantata in December. Read about the entire season here.

Tickets are sold at the Teatro Peón Contreras box office. 

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