Obscure Music Monday: Bantock's The Witches Frolic
Sir Granville Ransome Bantock (Aug. 7, 1868 - Oct. 16, 1946) was a British composer and conductor, born in London. His parents hoped he would enter the Indian Civil Service, but poor health would prevent him from that. He turned to chemical engineering, but around 20 years old, he started looking at musical manuscripts. His first teacher was at Trinity College of Music, and in 1888 he entered the Royal Academy of Music, studying with Frederick Corder.
Bantock's conducting took him around the world, and he was known at times for devoting an entire concert to one composer. He was professor at the University of Birmingham (succeeding Sir Edward Elgar) from 1908 - 1934, and elected Chairman of the Corporation of Trinity College of Music in London. He was knighted in 1930.
Bantock's output was not insignificant, and he wrote for many different genres, including chamber music in less common configurations, like The Witches Frolic, for bassoon trio. This fun work is actually from incidental music he wrote for a Macbeth production, and it has a mildly spooky fall vibe to it, like you'd expect. The first bassoon starts in with a jaunty, bouncy melody, and then the second and third follow suit. From there the work expands and goes on a fun little journey with one bassoon often having the main melody and the other having backup accompaniment parts. It ends quite humbly, on a unison D. It's a charming piece!
Here's a recording of this fun work for you to enjoy!