Friday, January 21, 2011

It was also the Army's name for certain nuclear bombs... don't know if that's insulting or not.

  Friday, January 21st.  Your loyal blogger almost wrote in celebration of the 198th birthday of pathfinder of the West, Republican presidential candidate, and fellow College of Charleston alumnus John C. Fremont (who, for the record, led a thoroughly amazing life). Instead, I'll briefly celebrate an inanimate object: the bassoon.

  Subject to all forms of jokes and insults, there are some admitted quirks to the instrument.  For one, the bassoon is big.  A performer has to strap it to the chair or the floor or to their person just to hold it.  A cheap one costs as much as a good used car, and a nice new one as much as a small BMW.  Fingering is incredibly complicated, there is a huge variety of playing styles and methods, reeds need to be custom-cut, and there are two significantly different systems of construction.  And once upon a time in the 1960s, the father of erectile dysfunction medicine- a Knight Grand Cross of the British Empire, famous for once demonstrating the positive effects of his chemical treatments by dropping his drawers in the middle of a urological conference- tried to turn the instrument electric.  It didn't take.

  It's a frequently mocked, maligned, and altogether under-appreciated instrument.  Which is quite sad, really; think of all the great places where the sound of a bassoon just works.  The creepy opening solo in Stravinsky's Rite of Spring.  The bassoons (and contrabassoons!) in Beethoven's 9th.  The stiff-but-smooth, so-very-Edwardian baritone running throughout the works of Elgar.  Nothing but bassoons.  Blast it, imagine some other instrument as grandfather in Peter and the Wolf (I'm lookin' at you, cello- knock it off).  The bassoon is a wonderful instrument.

  Happily for your loyal blogger, we're gonna have a bassoon here at the Library Society next week.  Yuriy Bekker, concertmaster, alongside seven other CSO principal musicians, will perform Schubert's Octet in F Major next Wednesday, January 26th, at 7PM.  Tickets for the event, Time Machine: Schubert in Vienna will be available at the door starting at 6PM.  $15 ($10 for students).  Check out for more details.

And to get you in the mood: some bassoonists playing Lady Gaga!

No comments:

Post a Comment