> Alfred Genovese - Oboe Recital [GPJ]: Classical Reviews- February 2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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SCHUMANN 3 Romances op.94 for Oboe and Piano
POULENC Sonata for Oboe and Piano
IBERT Escales, no.2
LOEFFLER 2 Rhapsodies for Oboe, Viola and Piano
MOZART Quintet in Eb for Piano and Wind, K.452
Alfred Genovese, oboe, Peter Serkin, Piano, Robert Spano, piano, Burton Fine, viola, Harold Wright, clarinet, Richard Sebring, horn, Richard Svoboda, bassoon
Recorded at South Mountain Concert Hall, Pittsfield MA, August 1992

Boston Records

Alfred Genovese is a talented and distinguished woodwind player, and, as principal oboe in the Boston Symphony Orchestra, one of the finest oboists in the USA. This is an interesting issue, which shows him both as soloist and chamber music player. The Schumann and the Poulenc are central planks of the oboe repertoire, while the Loeffler is a rarity (at least to UK listeners). The Mozart quintet on the other hand is one of the composers most loveable works, and one of the finest works ever written for wind instruments.

That said, this CD isnt altogether kind to Mr. Genovese. Firstly the programming; the Schumann consists of three slow(ish) pieces, and the Poulencs first movement is slow, so that its getting on for twenty minutes before we hear any lively music. This, allied to the oboists musical but rather unassuming approach, means that the impression is of rather bland performing. Unhelpful, too, is the recording balance, which has Peter Serkin too close, making him sound heavy-handed (which he is not), and has Genovese sounding a little distant, so that some of the subtleties of his playing are lost. I sympathise with the engineers, because wind instruments, particularly reed instruments, are among the hardest to record successfully. Most people probably imagine that the sound emerges largely from the bell, i.e. the end of the instrument, which is not the case; it comes from all over the place, often depending which holes are open or closed at any particular time. There is also a fair amount of extraneous noise emanating from Genoveses reed, which would be inaudible were he in the depths of the orchestra; but here it becomes very distracting, as does the cricket chirruping away merrily (and loudly) in the background. (I kid you not!)

All these distractions and irritations mean that its not easy to enjoy the soloists felicities in the first three works, brilliantly accomplished though his playing is. The Loeffler pieces were new to me, and, despite the intriguing combination of instruments, struck me as dull works with little awareness of the potential tone-colours from this ensemble. Not surprisingly, then, its the Mozart which provides easily the greatest rewards on the disc. This is much more than a mere routine performance, with delightful contributions from all the wind soloists. Serkins piano part is lacking in sparkle, though; in the slower sections of the work he seems determinedly po-faced; so you have to go beyond the rather bland slow introduction before things really begin to happen. After that, there is much to enjoy, with a particularly lively finale.

Gwyn Parry-Jones

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