By Wayne Barlow. For Bassoon, String Quartet and Piano
Barlow's Prelude, Air and Variation, written in 1948, is the first twentieth-century work scored for the combination of bassoon, string quartet, and piano. There are earlier compositions from the Late Classical and Early Romantic eras by Johann Evangelist Brandl, Domenico Cimarosa and others. It is interesting to note that the other notable modern works for this ensemble are also by American composers, specifically Gunther Schuller and Elliott Schwarz. Barlow's harmonic language is much more conservative than that of Schuller and Schwartz, and he does not exploit the bassoonist's potential virtuosity as do the later composers. The work is notable for Barlow's melodic gift and the care with which he varies the harmonic underpinning, as well as the basic structure of the piece. It is a beautiful composition that never fails to garner compliments after it is performed.
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