Woodwind compositions find their way into modern concert halls only infrequently; music for two bassoons practically never. Yet an entire literature exists for the "bass oboe"- as it is sometimes called-both solo and in ensemble. As Sunday night's program indicated, the great wealth of such music lies in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries; evidently it was the nineteenth that bannished bassoons from the recital stage to the Stygian regions of the orchestra.
Baroque and Classical bassoon compositions make formidable technical demands on the player. Scale passages, intricate ornamentation, and even arpeggios must be tossed off at great speed, yet retain the graceful framework in which they were conceived. Alexander Gelley '55 and Theodore Schultz 7G not only surmounted purely technical obstacles; they brought a delicate clarity to the occasionally obscure scoring. Their selections ranged through Couperin, Telemann, and Mozart, 'and Mr. Gelley represented the modern solo repertoire with Hindemith's Sonata (1938).
The two artists were remarkably fortunate in their accompanists, and pianist Robert Freeman '57 imparted a subtlety to the Hindemith sonata that matched Mr. Gelley's. Melville Smith's brilliant harpsichord playing transcended the role of mere continue and turned the keyboard into an integral part of the ensemble. Midway in the evening, he delighted the audience with an interlude of harpsichord pieces by Byrd, Bull, and L. Couperin. They provided contrast to the suave tone of the woodwinds and added a touch of brighter color that perfectly balanced the program.