Topic: Sergio Azzolini setup?

Does anyone out there have any sort of regular contact with the Italian bassoonist Sergio Azzolini, or is Mr. Azzolini a member of this forum? His sound is among my very favorites and I was hoping to know more about what type of setup he has for modern bassoon. Any help would be appreciated...thanks!


Philip
NYC

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Re: Sergio Azzolini setup?

Hello, from what I have been told Mr Azzolini does not do computers. He has an assistant(or student), that handles his electronic correspondence. Whether this is still true today I am not sure, but it is what Massimo, one of our concert masters told me a few years ago.

Principal bassoonist, Orquesta Sinfonica de Galicia, A Coruña, Spain. Bassoonist, bassoon dad, bassoon husband, bassoon uncle, bassoon brother and bassoon son.

Re: Sergio Azzolini setup?

He plays on a contemporary Puchner bassoon on a number of recent recordings. DOn't know about bocals or reeds.

M.M.A., D.M.A. University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign: B.Mus. Lawrence University
Bassoon professor at University of Wisconsin Eau-Claire
Maker of the Little-Jake electric bassoon pickup and Weasel bassoon reeds

Re: Sergio Azzolini setup?

Hi Philip.  For quite some time he, was also using a Moennig bassoon, until it was stolen from him about 2 years ago.  I do not know if he ever replaced it with another Moennig.  If Trent is right, and I believe that he is, he replaced it with a Puchner.

Bassoonist Ordinaire, all around nice guy.
If anyone needs a damn fool, I'm your man!

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Re: Sergio Azzolini setup?

I'll also add that I've heard that Azzolini does not have any real "brand loyalty." In other words you might hear him play on any number of Heckel, Puchner, Moennig, or Fox bassoon on any given recording. To the best of my knowledge he hasn't played a Moosmann. No idea about any other major manufacturer.

At any rate, in order to sound like Sergio, you must be Sergio.

M.M.A., D.M.A. University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign: B.Mus. Lawrence University
Bassoon professor at University of Wisconsin Eau-Claire
Maker of the Little-Jake electric bassoon pickup and Weasel bassoon reeds

Re: Sergio Azzolini setup?

It is not the instrument. It is the player. I've played Puchners, Heckels and Foxes, and I always sound like myself. The instrument is not the game changer for anyone. Sergio or Joe Schmoe....

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Re: Sergio Azzolini setup?

Guitarists are often known to say, when talking about what guitar and amp so-and-so used on whatever recording: "Tone is in the fingers."

M.M.A., D.M.A. University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign: B.Mus. Lawrence University
Bassoon professor at University of Wisconsin Eau-Claire
Maker of the Little-Jake electric bassoon pickup and Weasel bassoon reeds

Re: Sergio Azzolini setup?

Taking nothing away from Signor Azzolini (you can't), if it isn't the instrument, then why do so many players seek 7000 series Heckels , prewar bocals, and the magical cane or reed design to get them to the top??

Bryan Cavitt
Bassoon Dad

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Re: Sergio Azzolini setup?

Thank you all for your input. A couple of you have responded to my threads before, and may recognize me as the guy perpetually on a search for a new instrument, and when inspired to ask what maker has the best this or most that, tends to cause a bit of a stir.

"Sounding like yourself" is admirable for sure. In my mind, sounding like Sergio wouldn't be half bad either smile  I know that so much of what makes him sound the way he does is a deep commitment to musicality (and what must be superior reed making skills to allow him to achieve such musicality), but I also like to know what some of my favorite players are using so I can get an idea of what I may also want to consider.

At any rate, I'll be trying out a Fox 660 and a 5000 series Heckel tomorrow afternoon!! Thanks again for your replies.


Phil
NYC

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Re: Sergio Azzolini setup?

Bryan Cavitt wrote:

Taking nothing away from Signor Azzolini (you can't), if it isn't the instrument, then why do so many players seek 7000 series Heckels , prewar bocals, and the magical cane or reed design to get them to the top??

Bryan Cavitt
Bassoon Dad


You just hit on one of the reasons why I think it's silly for people to insist on Heckel bassoons at all, let alone desiring one from a narrow range of build dates. There are good bassoons and bad bassoons. My opinion is to buy a good bassoon, with a good bocal, that plays in tune, that you like to play and that inspires you. Learn to make good reeds for it, and learn to play it.

M.M.A., D.M.A. University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign: B.Mus. Lawrence University
Bassoon professor at University of Wisconsin Eau-Claire
Maker of the Little-Jake electric bassoon pickup and Weasel bassoon reeds

Re: Sergio Azzolini setup?

Trent wrote:

You just hit on one of the reasons why I think it's silly for people to insist on Heckel bassoons at all, let alone desiring one from a narrow range of build dates. There are good bassoons and bad bassoons. My opinion is to buy a good bassoon, with a good bocal, that plays in tune, that you like to play and that inspires you. Learn to make good reeds for it, and learn to play it.

To which I would add, don't listen to the nay-sayers who question your choice (I've had a few of those).

Christopher Brodersen
Maker of Historical Keyboard Instruments
Reviewer/contributor - Fanfare Magazine
Amateur bassoonist, baroque oboist, baroque bassoonist

Re: Sergio Azzolini setup?

Ha yes!

The number of people that try to guess what serial number my instrument is and I tell them 4300. "But it doesn't look nearly old enough, who did the overhaul?" Ha!

M.M.A., D.M.A. University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign: B.Mus. Lawrence University
Bassoon professor at University of Wisconsin Eau-Claire
Maker of the Little-Jake electric bassoon pickup and Weasel bassoon reeds

Re: Sergio Azzolini setup?

You all make good points about instrument brands and that is a great subject in itself. Phil, let us know what you chose, I would be more inclined to move toward the 660 Fox, because of the general properties the two horns are "supposed" to have. BUT... as everyone has already said, each horn is different, let us all know please and I hope you are very happy with your choice.

More about Azzolini, when he came here to Spain, people said that he was playing on a Yamaha. ha ha, yet another brand in the mix. I think he plays on what he wants, when he wants. I have a rant about Yamaha's on another post because of the overblown octave. Apparently he liked the instrument, but was unhappy about the overblown Bb. He actually had a ring place over the Bb tone hole to improve the pitch, ( first thing I thought of was "crossleakes" between the bores of the boot). I have had quite a few Yamaha horns with the overblown octave problem and found that putting a small thickness of tape around the entire A tone hole helped both the A and the Bb. Anyway, I have another student with a rather excellent Yamaha, no problems with that octave. This shows there are exceptions to everyone's rules, especially with trying horns.

I have another Azzolini rumor that he was helping Yamaha in some manner to improve certain problems with Yamaha bassoons. (just a rumor). I am surprised that nobody mention his baroque bassoon playing, I can´t believe he can get around on those horns with so little key work. The connection  here is that it is also rumored that he has an extensive instrument collection and I would guess he changes bassoons like reeds for the appropriate work.

Principal bassoonist, Orquesta Sinfonica de Galicia, A Coruña, Spain. Bassoonist, bassoon dad, bassoon husband, bassoon uncle, bassoon brother and bassoon son.

Re: Sergio Azzolini setup?

Bryan Cavitt wrote:

Taking nothing away from Signor Azzolini (you can't), if it isn't the instrument, then why do so many players seek 7000 series Heckels , prewar bocals, and the magical cane or reed design to get them to the top??

Bryan Cavitt
Bassoon Dad

Because they THINK it will get them to the top. 

I am lucky.  I have tried many many different bassoons, including one 9000 Heckel.  (or was it a 7000?  I don't remember)  A bassoon can change your sound, but it will change YOUR sound, not make you sound like someone else.  I have a Takeda bassoon.  I think it has a wonderful sound, and I have received enough compliments (from people other than my family, that is) that lead me to believe that it's true.  In that past three years, I have tried Adlers, Bells, Foxes, Heckels, Moennigs, Moosmanns, Puchners, Schreibers, Takedas, Walters, Wolfs, and quite a few more that I have forgotten.  I find that with all of them, I sound like me.  My teacher has an exceptional bassoon.  Once I was having a lesson at her place when she put her Heckel down to go and do something in the kitchen.  Here was an opportunity!  Far be it from me to pass up the chance to try a good bassoon, so I put mine down, grabbed hers and started playing the same passage.  She called over, "Your G is sharp!"  It was.  I fired back, "I'm playing your bassoon!"  She wandered back and listened at the door, then went back to the kitchen to finish what she was doing.  It showed us both two things.  First of all, she was not able to tell which bassoon I was playing, a Heckel or a Takeda.  Secondly, the tendencies that I have on the Takeda, I also have on the Heckel.  (However I must add that these two bassoons sound and feel surprisingly similar to each other.)

In the end, you (or your child) will develop a sound that is yours, and it is based on how your body, your embouchure, and your airstream interacts with your reed, your bocal, and finally, the bassoon.  As a result, it is impossible for me to sound like Sergio Azzolini, because I am Dean Williams and I sound like Dean Williams, and Dean Williams has a different body than does Sergio Azzolini.  If I buy a 9000 Heckel, there are some things that will sound better, there may well be some notes that are better in tune, but in the end I will sound like Dean Williams playing a 9000 series Heckel.  So, it will sound pretty good, but probably not quite as good as Sergio Azzolini playing a 9000 series Heckel.  Such is life...  But will it give me an advantage over others who may be auditioning for the same job?  Personally, I have always thought that any advantage gained from any particular bassoon is mostly psychological. However, in that rarefied world, any advantage, even psychological ones, are important.

To me, the important thing is to find a bassoon with which you are comfortable.  A local bassoonist here in Montreal recently traded in his Heckel for a Bell bassoon because in his words, he finds that he does not have to work as hard with the Bell.  So every time he goes to work, he has the advantage of knowing that his job is easier than it was before.  Quite an advantage, isn't it?

Last edited by Dean (2013-06-15 06:13:00)

Bassoonist Ordinaire, all around nice guy.
If anyone needs a damn fool, I'm your man!

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Re: Sergio Azzolini setup?

Dean -

Everything you say is true.  I play on a Fox Model III because I do outdoor concerts.  My son, a M.M. candidate, plays on a Renard 240 and sounds great on it.  Does that mean we both aren't looking for a bocal that will improve intonation and/or projection?  Or a reed that makes Rite of Spring sound more mysterious?  Of course, and I'm sure you did too at one time.  Everyone looks for that magic combination.  But Jordan and I sound like Jordan and I.  We know that.

It hasn't been that many years ago that you HAD to play on a Heckel to win that audition.  You were expected to.  There are too many good instruments out there now for Heckels to be the end all for bassoons.  I love to try new instruments when I have the chance (hear that Mark Ortwein??).  Is it going to make me instantly better?  No.   No better than a jr. high student playing on a Stradavarius violin.  But that's another thread.

Last edited by Bryan Cavitt (2013-06-15 12:49:06)

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Re: Sergio Azzolini setup?

I am not saying that you can't improve your sound.  You can.  I have tried two bocals that did a lot for my bassoon.   Finding a reedmaker who was able to match a good professional reed to my bassoon helped so much that it cannot be imagined.  But in the end, the sound will not change to another sound, rather, you will simply sound a bit different.  The magic combination, as you rightly put it, may or may not exist.  All I am trying to say is that it may not be the Heckel that will give it to you.  In my case, it was a Takeda, and a Walter and a Moosmann.

Bassoonist Ordinaire, all around nice guy.
If anyone needs a damn fool, I'm your man!

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Re: Sergio Azzolini setup?

Interesting thread - reminds me of a performance of a colleague I heard at the Banff IDRS Conference a few years ago - the _sound_ of his bassoon and fluidity and bouyancy inherent thereof, just blew me away!  I loved it - after the recital, I asked him what Heckel serial # it was - his reply was that it was a Fox bassoon (can't remember which #), but that he added a Heckel _bell_ to the setup!  Go figure - WHATEVER WOIKS!!!!  Cheers, Jim

James Jeter, D.M.A., NYC Bassoonist
"To love human beings is still the only thing worth living for; without that love, you really do not live." Soren Kierkegaard
"Whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it." Mahatma Gandhi  "Mach' es kurz! Am Juengsten Tag ist's nur ein Furz!" Goethe

Re: Sergio Azzolini setup?

Bryan Cavitt - I have the Moennig/Adler bassoons in stock. Come down and try them!
I've played Heckel bassoons (10,000; 8000; 13,000; and many others just trying), a Fox 601, a Yamaha 821 and now the Moennig Diamant and Topas.  Each bassoon obviously plays differently and with some bocal changes and "reed changes" I always sound like "Me", but it's easier to do certain things on different bassoons and playing these different bassoons side by side there are certainly differences, but I always sound like me.  It depends on what horn you like; what your playing environment is; do you play 1st bassoon or 2nd, or both; etc....
The Moennig Diamant is like a modern Heckel and the Topas is like an older thin walled Heckel (like a 7000).  Each plays different, but both very well.  After playing both in many circumstances I'm keeping the Diamant - I like the way it blows (focused and dark, yet very clear and resonant) and the high range is Fantastic.  Really sings!  The Topas is a little more free blowing and little more flexible.

Most good players can make any decent bassoon sound good, so it's a personal preference of what they like to play and what makes it easiest to sound the way they want to sound. 

Mark

Mark Ortwein
Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra
OrtweinWoodwinds.com

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Re: Sergio Azzolini setup?

Hi Mark -

Yeah, I tried a Moennig at this year's IDRS (I think it was a Diamant) and really liked it. Ironically, this was within earshot of the Moosmann booth (I play a 150AP), with both Bernd and Justin looking over at me to see who was playing! That's OK--they sell plenty of bassoons in the U.S.
What I REALLY wanted to try was one of the 'natural finish' horns I saw last year in Ohio, but alas, none this year.

Christopher Brodersen
Maker of Historical Keyboard Instruments
Reviewer/contributor - Fanfare Magazine
Amateur bassoonist, baroque oboist, baroque bassoonist

Re: Sergio Azzolini setup?

I have a friend that plays in an orchestra in Berlin. He picked his Diamant over a few Heckels and some other makers. I guess that is the whole point of the thread, bassoons are like reeds, a good piece of wood is a good piece of wood.

Principal bassoonist, Orquesta Sinfonica de Galicia, A Coruña, Spain. Bassoonist, bassoon dad, bassoon husband, bassoon uncle, bassoon brother and bassoon son.

Re: Sergio Azzolini setup?

Christopher,

You must mean the Monnig del Sol bassoon.  It plays well, but the Diamant has better projection.  This Diamant I'm playing (just got back less than a week ago) has "The Best" high range of any bassoon I've ever played.  I'm excited to play it in over the next year! 

Mark

Mark Ortwein
Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra
OrtweinWoodwinds.com

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