Gordon Hunt will be a name familiar to many concert-goers
and music-lovers all over the UK. He has held a number of positions
in important British orchestras, and now his numerous recordings have
brought him to an international audience. These sparklingly accomplished
performances of Baroque masterpieces for oboe will further enhance his
growing reputation as one of the finest oboists playing today.
Most of the works recorded here are familiar enough,
particularly to oboists and those fond of the instrument and its repertoire.
The Albinoni with which the disc starts – the d minor concerto – is
given a characteristically alert and characterful reading, full of attractively
personal yet entirely stylish touches of phrasing, dynamics etc. The
Vivaldi-like Adagio is correctly singled out for mention in Stig
Jacobsson’s very informative booklet. It is a particularly beautiful
movement, which Jacobsson suggests should be known as ‘The Albinoni
Adagio’ rather than the much over-performed piece known by that name
which he didn’t even write!
Hunt’s tone is creamy and extremely smooth – some will
perhaps find excessively so – but superbly even and controlled. One
issue does arise from the very start, however, which is that of noisy
key-work. This is only seriously noticeable in the quick music, but
I have to say that Hunt’s Howarth oboe is very clicky. This isn’t
a problem for me – I’m a wind player myself, and quite used to such
things - but some listeners might well find it intrusive, almost like
tiny castanets playing strangely asymmetrical rhythms in accompaniment!
It’s worst in the Cimarosa, which otherwise is given a most alluring
The novelty item on the disc is the one which gives
the issue its name – Elevazione by the obscure Italian 18th
century composer Domenico Zipoli. The booklet gives a brief account
of this gentleman’s fascinating but sad life; kicked out of Rome as
a young man for having ‘relations’ with his aristocratic benefactress,
spending ten years in Seville apparently waiting for a boat to Paraguay.
Finally arriving in South America, he died in Argentina of tuberculosis
before being able to take holy orders, which had been his goal. An eventful
but melancholy story, and one which perhaps spices up one’s response
to this essentially attractive but unremarkable piece.
The playing of the Norrköping Symphony Orchestra
is superb throughout, and the whole thing is perfectly captured by the
BIS engineers. A great artistic success, but your response may depend
on whether Hunt’s noisy key-work is acceptable to you.