Swooned by the Bassoon

I am a fan of classical music; I listen to it while studying, doing the dishes, and attempting to lull myself into a peaceful slumber.  I do not in any way however consider myself a classical music connoisseur.  I tend to view this type of music as ambient noise; something to exist in the background while tasks that require more attention exist in the forefront of my mind.  This preconceived notion is what circulated in my mind as I journeyed into “Voices”, a faculty recital headlined by Matthew Morris, Visiting Assistant Bassoon and Music Theory Professor from Baylor University.  I expected an audience comprised of elder School of Music junkies, entertainment to be non-existent, and to be rudely awoken from a trance-like nap by the second Sonata.

Fortunately for me, as well as the musician I am critiquing, this is not the scenario that was written into the reality of last night’s events.  The audience consisted of nearly 90% students and respective peers and I was immediately entertained by Morris’s interjectory quips.  Morris’ bassoon needed a few adjustments after the first set of songs and he improvised this possible awkward occurrence by recounting a short, yet entertaining, history of the instrument unknown by most. “This instrument runs like the Nile,” joked Morris, “water just goes everywhere.”  The audience erupted into unprovoked laughter that I participated in even without a pertinent knowledge of his predicament. (Musical talent is far from my list of perceived abilities).

Morris was wise enough to recognize that his talent was not one that was familiar with the large majority of the audience, and tried to explain bluntly how the instrument is played.  He described the process as, “somewhere between riding a wild mustang and a plow horse.” (Again cue laugh track from the now captive audience).

“Voices”, the recital’s broad category, dealt with not only the voice of the composer, but both the artist and instrument of choice.  These components are the three key elements displayed in any performance, and more particularly this one, which premiered a piece never before heard.

I was completely surprised at how much I enjoyed the music of both the bassoon and accompanying piano even without the luxury of other distractions.  The bassoon’s suave sound relaxed me into submission as the wavy wood paneling comprising the ceiling of Glidden Hall added to the calming effect.  Despite some moderate technical difficulties in the second sonata, I fully embraced my first introduction to the flashy bassoon and its methodically swooning tone.

Visit the Arts for Ohio Calendar to see when and where to catch the next Visiting Artist Recital.

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