The chamber music combination of clarinet, bassoon and piano is an acquired taste, and selections for this kind of trio are not exactly so plentiful that people go around making careers on them. And the players in Philadephia's Academy Trio, at the Library of Congress last night, are not people who need to.
"Academy" refers to the Academy of Music, the Philadelphia Orchestra's 130-year-old home. The trio's principal players are Anthony Gigliotti, the orchestra's first clarinet since 1949, and Bernard Garfield, first bassoon since 1957. Amelia Gigliotti is the pianist.
An especially appealing kind of musical color comes from this pairing of a suave, open-sounding instrument -- the clarinet -- with a gutteral, husky one -- the bassoon.
The two instruments were pitted against each other, as in conversation, in one of the evening's two main works. It was the three-movement Trio of the noted composer-conductor Stanislaw Skrowaczewski in its first performance.
This impeccably crafted composition began in an antic mode, with the elegant clarinet and the earthy bassoon trying to outpoint each other in phrases contructed like punchlines.
With the slow middle movement, emotional intensity began to be felt in an ambivalent lyric gravity reminiscent of Shostakovich, resolving eventually into a madcap final movement that concluded with some funny little blurps and a trick ending.
Also there was an urgent, atmospheric Villa-Lobos "Fantaisie Concertante" -- in fact, another three-movement trio -- that was full of sensuous color. It was a bit like the way Ravel might have done it if he had been Brazilian. A lovely composition.
The two other works were, at best, curiosities, by Konradin Kreutzer and Karl Goepfart, the latter being a turn-of-the-century composer with a lease on musical history so tangential that he doesn't even merit presence in Grove's Encyclopedia.