musings of a professional bassoonist

Friday, October 15, 2010

An amazing bassoon recital

Karen Pierson

The Ohio State University School of Music's Weigel Hall was the site of Karrie Pierson's bassoon recital this evening.  Karrie is Associate Professor of Bassoon at The Ohio State University, for those who don't know.  The program was staggeringly ambitious:

Ludwig Spohr (1784-1859): Adagio in F Major, Op. 115
Jean Francaix (1912-1997): Concerto for Bassoon
Damian Montano (b. 19--): Duo Concertante
Bernhard Crusell (1775-1838):  Concertino for Bassoon

Each piece was virtuosic and full of character.  Karrie's sound is indescribably appealing; it's dark yet sweet, present yet discreet.  Her accompanist, Maria Staeblein, also from the OSU faculty, matched Karrie perfectly without ever overpowering the bassoon. 

Of course, the Francaix Concerto is rarely performed, for good reason.  (Many bassoonists consider it unplayable!)  Somehow, Karrie was able to make even the Francaix sound easy!  This is only the 3rd time in my life that I have heard this piece played live.  It was a real treat.

The Montano was the most avant-garde piece on the program, although it definitely matched the other pieces in its appeal.  I especially enjoyed the note bending which Montano called for.

Karrie's career has included much playing and teaching.  After studying with Hugh Cooper and Norman Herzberg while obtaining her degrees in bassoon performance, she played principal bassoon in the Omaha Symphony.  Then she taught at UT Austin before joining the Houston Symphony where she played prior to accepting her appointment at The Ohio State University.

Karrie plays on a 9,000 series Heckel.  I love the way Karrie is able to make her instrument sound smooth, even and flexible throughout its range, with vibrato which is at all times clear and well-controlled.

I also marveled at Karrie's reed-making skills.  Her reeds excelled in both the low and the high range, unbelievably, and seemed to be both light and powerful.

Karrie received a standing ovation for her superb performance, as you might imagine.  It was well-deserved indeed!



Anonymous said...

Look ...

gt said...

I have to admit, that I'm not acquainted with all pieces performed that evening, but I'm sure the Bernhard Crusell spells without "w".

B.S. said...

gt, you're right. Thanks.