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The Poetic Oboe
Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856)

Drei Romanzen Op.94 (1849)
Madeleine DRING (1923-1977)

Three Piece Suite
Andrea CLEARFIELD (b.1960)

Unremembered Wings (2001)
André JOLIVET (1905-1974)

Sérénade (1945)
Clara SCHUMANN (1819-1896)

Drei Romanzen Op.22 (1853)
Andrea Gullickson (oboe)
Karen Enns (piano)
Recorded in Philip T. Young Recital Hall, Victoria, B.C., June 2003


Crystal usually manages to produce thoughtful discs. Here the Romantic pillars that support the programme are the Romanzen of Robert and Clara Schumann and the central part is given over to much less tilled soil, though Jolivet’s conservatoire test piece may well be known – and feared – by aspiring oboists. This is a four movement work written for the Paris Conservatoire in 1945 and exists in two versions; this one, for oboe and piano, and also for wind quintet with oboe soloist. The liquid opening Cantiléne gives way to the registral leaps and arabesques of the Caprice – and what sounds like exceptionally tricky matters of co-ordination with the pianist. The Intermède is a beautifully complex and expressive one that evinces the composer’s characteristic powers of emotive compression. The duo has to be on their toes in the Marche finale – prickly demands, rhythmic games, technical complications. Gullickson and Enns lead confidently to the conclusion.

It’s good to see that Madeleine Dring’s name is appearing more and more on disc and in recital – both chamber and vocal works in particular. What else could you expect from a work called Three Piece Suite than mercurial wit and charm? She oscillates convincingly between neo-classicism and pastoralism in the Showpiece opening movement whilst the Romance is Francophile and very beautiful in its lyricism and there’s a perky finale with moments of lyric reprieve. Written for her husband Roger Lord it’s, as one would expect of a composer writing for a performer of that stature, flawlessly laid out for the duo. Andrea Clearfield’s Unremembered Wings was commissioned by Gullickson in 2001 and was inspired by Pablo Neruda’s poem La Poesia. It ranges across the expressive bar lines and has a density that intrigues as well as rhythmic variety. The end sounds to me catastrophic – or at least decisively overwhelming – but that only adds to the depth of it. The Schumanns are attractively played and warmly recorded; Clara’s Op.22 (originally for violin and intended for Joachim) are relatively early; the second fares particularly well here.

Gullickson writes her own well-informed and sympathetic notes; Crystal’s sound is well focused and warm.

Jonathan Woolf

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