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Classical 101

A Woodwind by Any Other Name Still Sounds Sweet, & Sinister, & Silly

The Bassoon Brothers doing their best to enhance the bassoon's reputation

Certain instruments are regularly called upon to create a mood. Flutes and birds, angelic harps, regal horns, stately trumpets. There are two instruments which seem to be used mostly as the butt of jokes...violas and bassoons. Go to most instrument joke sites and those two often have sections set off to themselves, sections that are much larger than the others.

The bassoon is a particularly inviting target, but it really deserves a little more respect. It's the composers who have created the problem which causes most bassoonists to either spend a lot of time on the defensive or simply grin and bear it.

The bassoon can create many different moods beyond being a jovial clown. It does dark and sinister very well, not to mention lush and romantic.

How much do you know about the most famous bassoon solos? Judith LeClair, principal bassoonist for the New York Philharmonic, has spent her 33 years in that position attempting to add some luster to her instrument's reputation.

She sat down with NPR music producer, writer, and blogger Tom Huizenga to talk about her instrument and to create a little quiz to see how many famous bassoon solos you recognize.

You can take that bassoon quiz here.

Here is a taste of the bassoon at it's best...Judith LeClair with pianist Jonathan Feldman