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alternatively Crotchet  


Oboe Solo
Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)
Partita in G minor BWV 1013 [12:39]
Gilles SILVESTRINI (b.1961)
Six études pour hautbois [15:26]
Carl Philipp Emanuel BACH (1714-1788)
Sonata for solo oboe Wq132 [11:29]
Astor PIAZZOLLA (1921-1992)
Tango-études pour hautbois seul [23:36]
Yeon-Hee Kwak (oboe)
rec. Oranienburg Schoβ Nordkirchen 20-22 January 2006 DDD

Oboists doubtless have available to them a range of music for the oboe alone but I would suspect that most of the works were written for the purposes of teaching or practice, and that few of them have been recorded. Over the years I have collected quite a lot of recorded music for the instrument – some 180 items according to my database. Most are concertos and just two of them are for oboe alone – Malcolm Arnold’s Fantasy Op.90 (on Helios CDH55072) and C.P.E. Bach’s sonata which features here in a recording made by Jozsef Kiss (on Naxos 8.550556). And the latter was originally written for flute! I mention all this because I suspect we have all been missing something – the oboe on its own, uncluttered by orchestral instruments or a piano here sounds wonderful.

The first credit for this aural feast should undoubtedly be to oboist Yeon-Hee Kwak who positively explores what the instrument can do. She has great technical assurance and produces a wide range of tone. As well as being consistently delightful to the ear, these are very musical performances in which she moves across the different idioms with apparent ease. Currently second (!) oboe soloist in the Munich Radio Orchestra, she is a young artist, originally from South Korea, and I suspect we shall be hearing much more of her.

The engineers also deserve credit for the very natural sound picture. It is probably impossible to make a satisfactory recording of the instrument without some key clatter but this is minimal and not intrusive, and the acoustic seems ideal.

The programme is imaginatively constructed. Both the Bach works were originally for flute and in A minor but have been transposed to G minor. Interestingly, Kiss on the disc cited above plays the sonata by Carl Philipp Emanuel in the original key. He is also excellent but I prefer Ms. Kwak’s greater imagination and superior recording. This work is in three movements starting with an adagio and the lively finale is particularly memorable. The opening Partita by Johann Sebastian is in four movements – Allemande, Courante, Sarabande and Bourrée Anglaise. The Sarabande is taken quite slowly and is simply magical.

In between the two Bachs comes the music of a name unfamiliar to me previously – Gilles Silvestrini. He is an oboist who hails from the Ardennes and these six études, written between 1984 ands 1997 are his best known work. The first few notes of this music establishes its roots firmly in rural France, recalling the Songs of the Auvergne. Each of the études takes its inspiration from an impressionist painting (two of which were by Monet). These are very demanding works requiring use of “permanent breathing” (i.e. through the nose). Yet they are attractive and impressed me greatly.

Finally, to the tango-études, of which there are also six. This is late Piazzolla dating from 1987 and is not perhaps in his most characteristic vein. The second piece is the most substantial and notable; marked Anxieux et rubato there are long lines and Ms. Kwak certainly does not overdo either direction but emphasises the rhapsodic elements. The fourth tango-etude is also meditative, whilst the fifth is simply marked “Crochet = 120” and much anxiety then creeps back into the final piece, as directed.

The issue is well-documented with notes by Janine Droese and a decent English translation.

Lovers of the oboe will surely enjoy this imaginative and beautifully played recital, and it should also win new friends for the instrument. Like Scotch, sometimes it’s better on its own.

Patrick C Waller



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