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Oboe+: Berio & Beyond
Christopher REDGATE (b. 1956)
'……sting of the bee' (2006) [5:30]
Roger REDGATE (b. 1958)
'Ausgangspunkte' (1982) [11:26]
Michael YOUNG (b. 1968)
'Argrophylax' (2004) [19:37]
Michael FINNISSY (b. 1946)
'Pavasiya' (1981) [14:35]
Sam HAYDEN (b. 1968)
'Recoil' (2001) [9:33]
Luciano BERIO (1925-2003)
'Sequenza VII' (1969) [8:00]
Christopher Redgate (oboe; oboe d'amore)
Roger Redgate (violin)
Julian Warburton (percussion)
rec. Coombehurst Studio, Kingston University, London, 13-15 July 2006.
OBOE CLASSICS CC2015 [68:58]

This is hardcore modernism, played with considerable virtuosity by Christopher Redgate and his accompanists.
The Berio is a useful reference point for the listener, and in some ways it would have been helpful if this had opened the disc. However, it also makes quite good sense to end by anchoring the newer compositions to their influences in this way.
The soloist himself describes as the music as "extreme oboe music" and his helpful and extensive accompanying notes introduce "the new sounds". Further information is also available on the label's website, together with samples from the CD (in mp3 format). One of the techniques showcased particularly in the first track -- Christopher Redgate is alone improvised composition -- is circular breathing as used also by jazz musicians such as the saxophonist Evan Parker.
The second work, Ausgangspunkte (Points of Departure) was written specially for Christopher Redgate - who plays it here - and he describes it as the most difficult work in the repertoire. Unlike some of the other pieces on this disc it has no improvised sections but considerable parts of it require playing outside the official range of the instrument. This creates intensity and a sense of tension even in the slower tempo sections.
The third track, by Michael Young - who also produces and edits the recording - involves interactive computer accompaniment with which the live soloist has a constant dialogue. The oboe part is a mixture of written score and improvised freedom.
This is followed by a piece by the better known British composer Michael Finnissy, a Professor of Music at Southampton University, who has written considerably for the oboe. It involves both oboe and oboe d'amore, alternating with one another six times during the piece. It takes inspiration from Hopi Indian mythology and its idea of breath - the link to wind instruments - being fundamental to creation. Multiphonics are introduced only at the very end of the piece; in this respect differing from most of the other works on the disc.
The next work, Recoil by Sam Hayden, is by contrast made up largely of multiphonics, some distorted by flutter-tonguing. It is almost exclusively fortissimo and has a hard-edged sound. It is written at least partly as a tribute to Iannis Xenakis in the year of his death, and takes inspiration from some of that composer’s percussion writing.
The disc closes with Berio's Sequenza VII, which has become a seminal modern work for oboists. Those with an interest in this type of music may well already own at least one recording of it. It has been interesting to compare this performance with that by Laszlo Hadady of Ensemble Intercontemporain which forms part of Deutsche Grammophon's complete set (457 038-2) of the Sequenzas; this has a fresher and more immediate feel - in fact the sound of keys moving is audible!
Julie Williams


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