This is a most attractive disc of British concerted
music for the oboe and sufficiently varied to make a satisfying programme.
Michael Hurdís Concerto da Camera is a gloriously lyrical 12 minutes
or so and based on the simplest of thematic material for each of its
three movements. Kenneth Leightonís considerably longer Concerto, dating
from 1953 but not performed until 47 years later, is more serious, though
still shapely enough with a dance-like finale well in the English tradition.
Its best movement is the second, which begins austerely but builds to
a memorably passionate climax.
The prolific John Gardner, now 84, composed his Concerto
(for Nicholas Daniel) in 1990. It begins in neo-classical mode. Its
central Adagio is beautiful indeed and the finale, apart from its abrupt
closing bars, is enchantingly light to touch. The Blezard and Lane items
are light music, which contrasts well. The former, originally for flute,
evokes Scots and Irish colour nicely while Philip Laneís Dances may
be based in Spanish rhythms but the accent is decidedly English. Both
are in the best traditions of British light music.
Alan Cuckstonís affection for unusual, yet approachable,
British music is well known and here he secures excellent playing from
the English Northern Philharmonia, and admirable support for the soloist.
Jill Crowther, also Yorkshire-born, is a player I have long admired,
on record and in live performance. Here she is a splendid advocate for
this little known music. Her technique is more than equal to the quick
finales of the Hurd, Leighton and, especially, Gardner, while her beautifully
sustained tone works wonders, especially in the first two movements
of the Leighton Concerto. The recording is clear, natural and well balanced.
Altogether this is a very desirable addition to ASVís White Line Light
Classics Series, which has given us so much pleasure in recent years.
also review by Rob Barnett and David Wright