.Graham Sheen writes: "On January 3rd 1841 the critic of La France Musicale wrote: 'Once again, a musical soirée at the home of M. Herz…Un air varie pour basson composed and performed by M. Jancourt, gave great pleasure…The first inclination of the audience was to laugh, seeing the great virtuoso blowing into this immense stove pipe (cet immense tuyau de poele)'. Bit by bit, however, the audience were won over to the “poetry and purity of the sound”. The report concludes by acclaiming M. Jancourt “un basson de première force”.
The origins of Op.28 are obscure. Jancourt’s opus numbers appear to refer to the date of publication rather than composition though the style and scope of the work would seem to indicate an early date, perhaps in the 1840s. It seems also to have appeared under various titles: Air Varie, Air Varie Facile and Napolitan - Air Varie. Napolitan is, in itself, a puzzling title since this spelling is neither French, Italian or English. Whether or not it was the Air played at M. Herz’s soirée is impossible to say. I first became acquainted with Op.28 through an old worn-out copy of a Boosey and Hawkes edition of 1933, edited by one Archibald Evans - now long since out of print. The earliest surviving edition is that of Rivière and Hawkes of 1887. This edition comprises the best of both sources. I have endeavoured to retain the integrity of the earliest available version of the solo bassoon part whilst producing a more interesting and well-paced accompaniment. Jancourt himself might well have revised and embellished the piece in performance and I hope he would have approved my respectful attempt to preserve this now forgotten gem."
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