John Woolrich's contrabassoon concerto Falling Down received it's London premiere at this Summer's BBC Proms by its commissioners the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and their outgoing Principal Conductor Andris Nelsons. The soloist was Margaret Cookhorn.




‘Cookhorn was a superbly expressive soloist, her low notes caught and held by fellow denizens of the orchestra’s bass region – a double bass here, a bass trombone there. Meanwhile, the piccolos and high wind chirruped away in sardonic counterpoint. In amongst the grotesquerie, little moments of husky pathos from the soloist peeped out, immediately shouted down by the orchestra. In all, it was amusingly enigmatic.’

The Telegraph (Ivan Hewett), 20 July 2015


‘An unlikely concertante piece, predictably dark-hued and slightly gruff, but, as Cookhorn showed, totally convincing on its own terms’

The Guardian (Andrew Clements), 20 July 2015


‘It struck me as among Woolrich’s most vivid and effective essays.’


‘The preceding item, a contrabassoon concerto – unlikeliest of creations – by John Woolrich, given its London premiere with the impressive soloist Margaret Cookhorn, was like a pre-emptive commentary on the Beethoven [9th Symphony]. This 15-minute movement, justifying its title, Falling Down, with vertiginous descents from the piccolo heights to the bassoon bottom, not only emancipates the instrument whose blatant launch of the Turkish March in the Ninth’s finale can raise a titter, but, with its deployment (also Nielsen-like!) of antiphonal timpanists, further reminded us of the importance to that symphony of drumming. It struck me as among Woolrich’s most vivid and effective essays.’

The Sunday Times (Paul Driver), 26 July 2015


A recording of Falling Down can be found on the BBC Proms website here