The wizardry belongs
to Mark Weiger whose cover-shot shows
him levitating an oboe. How does he
do it? Simple; double and triple tonguing
and circular breathing. If you thought
the two former the province of trumpeters
and the latter the hegemony of soloistically
unstoppable jazz saxophonists, then
think again. Weiger has reclaimed what
he claims are historically authentic
mechanisms and he lets fly with bravado,
technique and flourish in this recital
- a veritable Picasso of a programme.
He has excavated Lailliet
and his fantasie and variational extravaganzas.
Amidst all the virtuosic curlicues and
those irresistibly camp French roulades
we hear some brilliantly clear articulation
from Weiger and some oxygen-inducing
long breaths in which he practises just
what he preaches. This is even more
audible in that old fiddlers’ stand-by,
the Dinicu-Heifetz Hora Staccato. Bitti’s
four-movement sonata is nicely shaped
with Weiger deigning to linger over
the slow movements, though the second
Adagio is certainly limpidly phrased.
It was only in the finale that I thought
indiscretion got slightly the better
of him – it’s very fast.
You will actually take
breaths for Weiger in the Simoni
with its effortlessly negotiated cadenza
and will doubtless admire his way with
Barth’s hardly world-shattering Sonata
Brillant. Robert Stephenson has written
a series of variations that he calls
Twinkle Variations (employing
that rather well-known tune). Virtuosic
and ranging avidly through style, time
and place (Calypso, jazz, Britten, Ravel’s
Bolero – some explicit, some less so)
this is an accomplished performance.
I’ve not mentioned
Arthur Rowe – rock solid and imaginative.
But really some of Weiger’s playing
does, well ... take the breath away.