About the Group
Since their formation in 1993, The Caliban Quartet of Bassoonists has been surprising and delighting listeners around the world with their eclectic and sparkling performances and recordings. With the aim of giving the bassoons all the good bits, they have shamelessly performed their own arrangements of everything from Renaissance religious music to world music, jazz, and tangos.
Real composers have written thirteen contemporary pieces for the Quartet, and reviews of their concerts have included words like "inventive," "superb," and "bassoon." Critic Christopher Howell of the online magazine Classical Music Web writes "it's that rare thing; it's not "classical", it's not "light", it's not even "contemporary" ... it's MUSIC and could unite a wide range of listeners accustomed to snob one another's product."
Their first CD BassOOnatics! has sold over 4,000 copies since its release by CBC Records in 1997 and receives steady airplay on CBC Radio Two's DiscDrive. It was re-released worldwide by BIS Northern Lights of Sweden in 2000.
Their second CD, Feast, was released by BIS in 2001 and features jazz pianist and composer Bill Douglas, Celtic singer Kate Crossan, and percussionist Mark Duggan. The American Record Guide chose Feast as their "Best of the Year" in its genre and said it is "worth buying no matter who you are"; BBC Music Magazine praised Feast for its "stunningly precise ensemble and tuning" and called it "essential listening for bassoonists. But great fun for the rest of us."
Their third CD, Caliban Does Christmas, was released in October 2005 by the ATMA Classique label. It features 18 holiday favourites from the obscure to the everyday with such singers as Valdy, Mary Lou Fallis and Heather Bambrick, and instrumentalists Guido Basso, Alain Trudel, Brian Barlow and more!
The Caliban Quartet performs in a number of different formats. They can perform a varied program of their repertoire for quartet with or without percussion. This repertoire can be slanted towards the light or the dark depending on the audience. (See some sample programs at the top of the page...)
As "Caliban 7" they also perform an exciting program with collaborators Stephen Sitarski (violin) Joseph Petric (accordion) and Mark Duggan (percussion). This features such works as Piazzolla's Concerto for Bandoneon, Shostakovich's Waltz from Jazz Suite #1, and the fiendish and beautiful Groteske by Erich Korngold. Some of this repertoire was broadcast by CBC Radio in February 2005.
They perform a light-hearted children's show featuring an original story with music called "Darwood's Wild Bassoon". This show has been performed at Toronto's Harbourfront, at the Ottawa International Chamber Music Festival, and at Stratford Summer Music.
With the addition of harpsichord, theorbo, baroque guitar and/or organ, they also transform into the lush and extravagant baroque group Musica Franca. This group will release its first two recordings, music by Corrette and Boismortier, on the MSR Classics and magnatune.com labels.
The Caliban Quartet is named after that strange little creature from Shakespeare's "The Tempest". Like the bassoon, Caliban is dark, earthy, sometimes humourous, and capable of more than you might think.
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