Frank Morelli was the first player to receive a doctorate in bassoon performance from the Juilliard School, and for many years he has been a member of the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. Gilbert Kalish was the pianist for the Boston Symphony Chamber Players for 30 years. On this disc they play a wide-ranging array of 20th-century music for bassoon and piano.
Its title, From the Heart, denotes not only affection for the music, but the fact that the composers were born in the heart of Europe. Luboš Sluka is a contemporary Czech composer who wrote his Cello Sonata in 1956 and adapted it for bassoon in 1971. Morelli took some bassoon passages back to the cello register for this recording. French composer Roger Boutry’s 1972 work Interférences has a jazzy opening and more than a few tricky rhythms, as well as expressive melodies that show the influences of Debussy and Ravel. Hungarian composer Iván Eröd’s 1989 Sonata Milanese gets its name from Milan Turković, for whom it was written, not from the city or the style of cooking. After a sprightly opening, Morelli’s bassoon sings the Andante tranquillo with a truly beautiful legato that leads into a melodic Lento. The final Presto section ties all the loose ends together and the work ends in a triumph of technique and artistry. Although he was born in Poland and passed a few years in the United States staying safe from the Nazis, Alexandre Tansman spent most of his life in France. His 1952 neoclassical Sonatine shows the influence of both French and Polish-Jewish music. Christopher Millard plays it on a 2005 Summit Recording, but I don’t think his interpretation is any more interesting than Morelli’s rendition.