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Musik für Oboe and Piano 1896-1999
Frank MARTIN (1890-1974)

Petite Compleinte (1941)
Claus KÜHNL (b.1957)

Morceau ’95 für Englischhorn und Klavier (1995) Hommage à Henri Dutilleux
Matthew GREENBAUM (b.1950)

Nod Quiet Ox (1994)
Frank Michael BEYER (b.1928)

Nachtstück (1993)
Elliott CARTER (b.1908)

Pastoral (1940)
Aleksander VEPRIK (1889-1958)

Kaddisch – Poem Op.6 (1925)
Mari AMOR (b.1973)

Zwei Stücke (1999)
Witold LUTOSŁAWSKI (1913-1994)

Epitaph – in memoriam Alan Richardson (1979)
Charles KOECHLIN (1867-1950)

Au Loin – Chant Op.20 (1896)
Fabian Menzel (oboe)
Bernhard Endres (piano)
Recorded Saalgebäude Alte Pastorei, Zetel, July 2003
ANTES BM CD 31.9199 [63.13]

The oboe and piano duo covers ground here in this century-plus survey of aspects of the repertoire. The earliest is the one programmed last, the Koechlin, an evocative and beautiful Chant, which brings out wider tone colours in Fabian Menzel’s playing than have been encouraged before – and greater verticality in matters of dynamics as well. I’d never heard Au Loin before and it’s a real beauty. So for that matter, though less overtly, is Frank Martin’s 1941 Petite Compleinte, which plays to the instrument’s strengths of plangent limpidity, as well as its more Puckish and evanescent appeals – both are winningly presented here. The American Matthew Greenbaum’s Nod Quiet Ox – anagram lovers might recognise the name of Don Quixote in there – is a six-movement suite that mines some clever rhythmic displacements, elliptical repeated note passages, a sense of wistfulness and dancing vigour. The fourth movement embodies a tribute to Stefan Wolpe but the last movement embraces the most moods – pastoral and fractious in equal measure.

Beyer’s Nachtstück is convincingly argued – crepuscular as well as skittish – whilst Carter’s early Pastoral includes some richly juicily romantic piano harmonies and a Francophile and Copland feel to some of the writing, as well as slippery neo-classical ones. Aleksander Veprik, born in Balta, spent his youth in Warsaw but moved to Germany. He was taken up by Toscanini, Scherchen and Dobrowen and was deeply involved in the propagation of Jewish music. Kaddisch, written in 1925, is appositely grave though not overly distinctive. Mari Amor peruses her own interests in her two little pieces – predominately folk inflected and lyrical – whilst Lutosławski’s piece in memoriam Alan Richardson is concise, tense yet measured.

The playing by the Menzel-Endres duo is as sympathetic as the recorded sound and the notes, in German and English, are helpful. Rather a miscellaneous programme, in truth, and most of the pieces are very short. But you’ll certainly find a nugget or two if you look hard enough.

Jonathan Woolf


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