It may have seemed like an April Fool's joke on the surface, but tonight's concert by students and faculty from the Yale School of Music at Weill Recital Hall, exploring music written for low instruments, was very much on the up-and-up. The pieces on the program ranged from the 17th century to the near-present, written - or, in the case of Bach's Toccata and Fugue, transcribed - for such low-register instruments as bassoons, tubas, and double bass. Other big-name composers on the program included Mozart, Prokofiev, and Anton Bruckner, who wrote his Aquelae in 1847, while he was organist at Sankt Florian.
Concluding the program was Sofia Gubaidulina's extraordinary Concerto for Bassoon and Low Strings (1975), played by longtime Yale faculty member Frank Morelli. Gubaidulina's music has a creepy, haunting quality; here, the combination of bass and cellos sounded at times like a persistent foghorn, or a rusted gate swinging in a storm. And, the bassoon solos were furiously intense, pushing the unwieldy instrument to its absolute limits. Deep, dark - and thoroughly satisfying.