Bassoon and Oboe Take Center Stage at U-Md.

Mark Hill
Mark Hill (Steve Wilson - Steve Wilson)
Friday, November 16, 2007

Sue Heineman, the principal bassoonist of the National Symphony Orchestra, and Mark Hill, the principal oboist of the National Philharmonic, have something in common besides their double-reed proclivities: They both teach at the University of Maryland. On Wednesday night, they gave a free concert with pianist Audrey Andrist in the Gildenhorn Recital Hall at the university's Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, where a crowd composed largely of students took time to see how the pros do it.

The first two movements of Pavel Haas's Suite for Oboe and Piano, written in 1939 in response to the Nazi invasion of the composer's Czech homeland, seethed with pain and defiance; Hill wrung pathos from the melodic lines, drawing plangent tones from his instrument, and Andrist hammered out jagged chords and a fearful motif reminiscent of tolling bells. Hill's searing playing in the finale foreshadowed the way in which subsequent history crushed the music's hopeful resolution.

Heineman showed her stuff in two pieces, deliciously toying with the languorous melody of Marcel Bitsch's Concertino for Bassoon and Piano and unleashing extravagant floods of notes and an array of attractive tone colors with little apparent effort in Malcolm Arnold's solo Fantasy for Bassoon.

The duo joined forces to savor the melodic candy of Henri Brod's arrangement of Donizetti arias and threw themselves into the blues and jazz inflections of Gernot Wolfgang's pretentiously titled Trilogy for Oboe, Bassoon and Piano, with Andrist laying down hard rhythms below. And Francis Poulenc's Trio for Piano, Oboe and Bassoon offered the purest neoclassical delight, a succession of bright-eyed melodies, spiky syncopated rhythms and witty musical rejoinders handed off effortlessly among Hill, Heineman and Andrist.

-- Andrew Lindemann Malone

© 2007 The Washington Post Company