Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Music Webmaster
Len Mullenger:

The Goossens Family. [61.18]
J.S.BACH (1685 - 1750)
1.Easter Oratorio. "Sinfonia"a [5.23]
Lord J.P.SOMERS-COCKS (1907 - 1995)

2."Three Sketches". Sketch No 1* [2.44]
Walter STANTON (1891 - 1978)
3."Chanson Pastorale"* [3.54]
Alan RICHARDSON(1904 - 1978)
4."Scherzino"* [1.56]
Sir George HENSCHEL (1850 - 1934)
5."Shepherd's Lament"* [5.34]
Thomas B. PITFIELD (1903 - 1999)
6."Rondo lirico"* [2.45]
Herbert HUGHES (1882 - 1937)
7."Bard of Armagh"* [3.55]
Thomas F. DUNHILL (1877 - 1946)
8.Three Short Pieces "Romance"* [2.45]
William BOYCE (1711 - 1779)
9."Matelotte"* [2.53]
Gerald FINZI (1901 - 1956)
10.Interlude for Oboe and String Quarteta [12.21]
Michael KREIN (?)
11.Serenade for Oboe and Two Harps** [4.23]
Morgan NICHOLAS (1903 - 1983)
12."Melody" (transcribed by Marie Goosens) ** [3.10]
13."A Cotswold Pastoral"a [5.07]
Sir Edward ELGAR (1857 - 1934)
14.Soliloquy for Oboe & Orchestra (orch. Gordon Jacob)b [4.00]
Leon Goossens (oboe), David Lloyd (piano)*
Marie and Sidonie Goossens (harps)**
Fitzwilliam String Quartet a
Bournemouth Sinfoniettab / Norman del Marb
Recording dates and details are not currently available.

This new release from Chandos has been given a slightly misleading title "The Goossens Family - a family of musicians". True though the statement is, a better description of the disc is the one on the rear insert " The Art of Leon Goossens" as he is featured on each piece and dominates the CD with his two sisters, Sidonie and Marie in minor roles. Brother Eugene is referred to but does not appear anywhere in the recordings.

Leon was a magnificent oboeist - without doubt the best Britain produced and arguably supreme on the world stage. His success was built upon a base of superb technique - he began playing as a child and had his own instrument by the age of ten - and his father who was conductor of the Carl Rosa Orchestra arranged lessons for him with top professional players of the day. On top of this soundest of bases was Goossen's own innate artistry and feel for the music along with his very distinctive and beautifully produced tone that seemed to be his almost as a birthright. The notes remind us of Goossens car accident which badly damaged his teeth and lower lip. This caused a three year break from public appearance and the subsequent elimination of the cor anglais and oboe d'amore from his repertoire due to the heavier reeds in them being too taxing .

The majority of pieces on the disc have Goossens with piano accompaniment (excellent support from David Lloyd here) as in a recital, and of the writers only William Boyce would be an easily recognisable name. The others are barely-known British composers and the works are mainly of the English pastoral school - pleasant and appealing but instantly forgettable. The perky Scherzino by Alan Richardson and Boyce's Matelotte at the end of the group with two hornpipes framing a slower central interlude made welcome contrasts. Their grouping in sequence was a weakness and a more varied order on the recording would have helped.

The only extended item was Gerald Finzi's Interlude for Oboe and String Quartet and it is undoubtedly the pick of the bunch. It is a substantial piece with some splendid string writing and an emotional range - at times elegiac, then turbulent - that keeps the listener enthralled. The oboe is part of a coherent, unified work and the slightly unusual balance was handled well in the recording. The same combination in the J.S.Bach Sinfonia and the Max Saunders piece showed again the potential in this grouping.

The contribution by the harp playing sisters, Marie and Sidonie came in a charming Serenade by Michael Krein and the simply titled Melody by Morgan Nicholas in which the sinuous oboe line is et against the minimal harp support. The closing track - a Gordon Jacobs arrangement of an Elgar piece - was a four minute delight.

Of Leon Goossens himself, faultless playing throughout with and a ravishing tone and subtle nuances - just as he will be remembered. This is a recording to dip into for reminders of one of the great performers heard here in some pleasant trifles.


Harry Downey

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