> English Oboe Concertos [PS]: Classical CD Reviews- Jun2002 MusicWeb(UK)






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  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

English Oboe Concertos
Michael HURD (b. 1928) Concerto da Camera
Kenneth LEIGHTON (1929-88) Oboe Concerto (1953)
William BLEZARD (b.1921) Two Celtic Pieces
John GARDNER (b.1917) Oboe Concerto (1990)
Philip LANE (b. 1950) Three Spanish Dances (1981)
Jill Crowther (oboe)
English Northern Philharmonia/Alan Cuckston
rec Leeds 2000
ASV WHITELINE CD WHL 2130
[64.58]


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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.


Philip Scowcroft

See also review by Rob Barnett and David Wright


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