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PHILIPPE MAGNAN – oboe and cor anglais recital
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)

Rondo alla Turca

Frederic CHOPIN (1810-1849)

Valse-Minuet

Sergei RACHMANINOV (1873-1943)

Vocalise

Raymond GUIOT (b.1930)

Afternoon Blues

Billie HOLLIDAY (1915-1959)
Don’t explain

Eugène BOZZA (1905-1991)

Lied for cor anglais and piano
Conte pastoral for oboe and piano
Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918)

Le petit berger
Rêverie

Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911)

Frühlingsmorgen

C-T. LALLIET (1837-1892)

Fantaisie originale for cor anglais and piano
Raymond GUIOT

Charlevoix-Atmosphère for oboe and piano
Le Virtuose-Hockeyeur for oboe and piano
Erik SATIE (1866-1925)

3 Gymnopédies

Johan Vaclav KALLIWODA (1801-1886)

Morceau de salon

Nikolai RIMSKY-KORSAKOV(1844-1908)

Le vol du bourdon

Philippe Magnan, oboe and cor anglais, Claude Soucy, piano
Recording venue and date not given
DISQUES PELLÉAS PELLÉAS CD0112 [68:25]

This disc, by the young Canadian oboe and cor anglais player Philippe Magnan, contains a cunningly devised programme. Alongside arrangements of ‘pop’ classics by Mozart, Rachmaninov and Debussy, there are works to intrigue the specialist – i.e. either actual players of the instruments or those with a particular interest in woodwind music. The latter category contains some charming little pieces by Raymond Guiot, of which perhaps the most appealing is Afternoon Blues, and two rather lovely recital pieces by Eugène Bozza, which are an expressive Lied for cor anglais and a more lively Conte Pastoral (‘Country tale’) for oboe.

Magnan has cast his net wide, for there is the quite surprising inclusion of the Billie Holliday song ‘Don’t explain’, sounding very beautiful on the cor. It goes without saying that much is lost in the absence of Holliday’s unique style and vocal quality. But something is gained too, for the ‘cooler’ version we have here draws attention to the song’s wonderful melodic line and dark, rich harmonies.

Another piece to feature the cor anglais is Lalliet’s Fantaisie originale, a pretty tedious piece of 19th century note-spinning, but which does contain some passages of whirlwind fingering and rapid tonguing to remind us what this normally rather stately instrument is capable of when it gets moving (oddly, the otherwise quite informative booklet makes no mention of this particular piece at all; presumably just an oversight). Magnan is more than equal to these technical challenges, and throws them off with casual relish, as he does with that famous show-stopper and finger-twister, ‘The Flight of the Bumble-bee’, with which, following in the tracks of Christian Lindberg (trombone), Kim Walker (bassoon), Emma Johnson (clarinet), and I’m sure many others, he chooses to finish this enjoyable disc.

Magnan is a brilliantly accomplished player, of that there is no doubt, and he is ably accompanied by Claude Soucy. There is style and imagination in Magnan’s playing, and plentiful evidence of flawless technique as well as scarily perfect intonation! The recording is excellent, too – close enough to feel intimate, yet not right up the bell, which can create all kinds of problems.

However, the truth is that to make a recital like this a truly compelling experience, you need a bigger musical personality – that of a Holliger or a Borg – and Magnan, for all his talent hasn’t quite got that.

Gwyn Parry-Jones



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