Hello - this is Paul Hanson, bassoonist with
Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, Cirque Du Soleil ZED, DAVKA, Peter Erskine,
Steve Erquiaga, Dennis Chambers, Oakland EastBay Symphony, The Klezmorim,
Billy Childs, Tracy Silverman and many more.
Recently I was given an opportunity to try Legere's new bassoon reed
prototype. I was expecting it to sound like an electric kazoo. When I
tried it-I was blown away by how musical, warm, dynamic the reed sounded.
I was and still am amazed. Not only does it play like one of the best cane
reeds ever but it STAYS THE SAME for MONTHS! It doesn't change after a
4-hour intense gig. It doesn't change in dry or wet, cold or hot weather.
I CAN DEPEND on this reed to deliver exactly what I want it to. The
dynamics of this reed are second to none. What a fabulous idea; for people
who just like to play and not spend half their lives profiling cane and
watching it dry - the Legere bassoon reed.
About the most radical development in bassoon reed technology that I'm
aware of in the last 100 years.
For the past couple of months, I've been
playing exclusively on a Legere synthetic bassoon reed. I'm almost
reluctant to reveal publicly how much I am enjoying the experience. As
good as these reeds are, I'm sure that even the folks at Legere understand
that it will take a long time to have synthetic reeds accepted as
mainstream in our worldwide culture of bassoonists, at least among
professionals. Prospective conservatory students will want the assurance
that a bassoon teacher will continue devote the time and energy to the
teaching of cane reed making, as I will, even if the professional happens
to be "doing a little Legere on the side".
That having been said, I have gone through a
variety of repertoire since the start of my Legere experiment. In late
February, shortly after receiving my first samples, I decided to be brave,
and play on the Legere reed for the opening of our fourth repetition that
week of Mozart's Symphony No. 39. I figured, that I could switch back to
my cane reed after the intro. I wound up using it for the entire symphony.
I asked my colleagues if they noticed, and all told me that the sound was
I continued to play on it during the month
of March, throughout the San Francisco Symphony's American Mavericks
Festival in San Francisco, Chicago, Ann Arbor, and New York. Through many
works, both orchestral and chamber, some of extreme difficulty (such as
David Del Tredici's "Syzygy"), my Legere reed performed reliably, with
fewer changes due to weather than cane reeds.
More recently I played Firebird here in
Davies Hall, and reports from colleagues in the orchestra were very
positive. I felt that the reliability of the reed allowed me to refine my
nuances of phrasing more than ever before.
The big question remains TONE - that basic
sound wave produced by the combination of reed, bocal, and instrument. Am
I sacriificing something in exchange for that ease of musical line? This
will take a while to answer. One of the most encouraging endorsements so
far comes from Jack Vad, the long time SFS recording engineer. No one
knows the sounds and personalities of the SFS players more than Jack does,
and he was extremely positive about the bassoon sound in the Berceuse last
Although my current reed shows no sign of
wearing out, I am in the process of breaking in some new Legere reeds, and
hope to have them humming like my favorite one very soon.