Arcangelo Corelli brought the form of Concerto Grosso to its peak early in the 18th century, and many composers continued to use the form. While Corelli usually used two violins and cello as the concertino and a string orchestra as the ripieno (as did Handel), the six Brandenburg Concertos of J.S. Bach saw many different combinations of both concertino and ripieno.
As composers are as much evolutionary as revolutionary, the concerto grosso began to go out of fashion and something new was beginning. The newest form of concerto was the Solo Concerto in which a single solo instrument played musical material to the accompaniment of the orchestra. Antonio Vivaldi was a composer that became famous for his solo concertos (although he continued to write concerto grossi for various combinations). His music influenced Bach, Handel and other composers to write in the form. Vivaldi wrote over 500 solo concertos, with about half of them for his instrument, the violin. But he wrote for most instruments in the orchestra. No one knows who the bassoonist was that he wrote his 39 bassoon concertos for, but whoever it was must have been very good for Vivaldi does not spare the soloist difficulties.
The Bassoon Concerto In E Minor RV 484 is one of Vivaldi's most recognizable. It is in the usual three movements:
I. Allegro poco - A serious mood is set immediately by the string orchestra as they begin the movement. The bassoon enters and gives its take on the theme. The orchestra and soloist alternate as was the usual practice of the ritornello form Vivaldi used, and the theme is developed and changed in the dialogue between soloist and orchestra. Vivaldi has the soloist play rapid arpeggios that are similar to what a solo violin would do in a violin concerto.
II. Andante - A serious introduction is given by the strings. When the bassoon enters the mood is softened as the bassoon sings mellow music. The short movement ends with the strings.
III. Allegro - Vivaldi returns to the quick music style of the first movement. The string orchestra part leads the bassoon to some rapid music and difficult figurations.
The bassoon has the reputation of being the clown of the orchestra, or at the very least of being an awkward, slow to speak member of the bass section, but Vivaldi's writing for the instrument shows that it is capable of much more.