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From Hafiz to Firewing (and Beyond)
 (b. 1938)

Homage to Hafiz (2004) [10:30]
Haas Trio for oboe, bassoon and piano (2004) [12:13]
Henri DUTILLEUX (b. 1916)

Oboe Sonata (1947) [10:42]
Dan WELCHER (b. 1948)

Firewing - The Flame and the Moth for oboe and two percussionists (1987) [11:15]
Thomas DUNHILL (1877-1946)

Friendship's Garland - a Suite of Five Miniatures op. 97 (1944) [7:45]
Paul PATTERSON (b. 1947)

Duologue for oboe and piano (1984) [16:00]
Erin Hannigan (oboe); Simon Sargon (piano); Scott Walzel (bassoon); Dan Florio, Drew Lang (percussion).
rec. May 2007, Caruth Auditorium, Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas. DDD
CRYSTAL CD820 [69:05]
Experience Classicsonline

Crystal can be relied on for programmes that have contrast, texture and fibrous interest. This is the latest.

Erin Hannigan is accompanied by the composer in the Sargon Hafiz Homage. It's a three movement work which rolls back seven centuries to take us to the city of Shiraz. These are mood pieces which continue a seam of exotica in American music which stretches back to Griffes, Loeffler and Farwell. This evokes ancient evenings and messages to do with beauty transcending the passage of time. Sargon writes in an accessible language which is intensely and memorably melodic. The Sonata by Dutilleux is more sombre and calculated without being mannered or dry. This concisely expressed three movement work carries a subtle emotional cargo which at this early stage in Dutilleux's career is more accessible than his later works such as the Cello Concerto. Try the sweetly sung scherzo middle movement. The name of Dan Welcher may well be familiar for his Pacific-themed works at least one of which was recorded in the 1970s. Firewing centres on the familiar story of the moth and the flame - of immolation in suicidal search of beauty. The ringing percussion - much use made of xylophone, gong and drums - provides a constantly ringing backdrop over which the oboe sings. The moth's fate is predictable and is gorily described in Annie Dillard's recounting of the classic tale. The oboe part sings touchingly throughout. Dunhill is getting some attention now and at last his Symphony has been recorded (Dutton). With smiling modest grace, Friendship's Garland is an unassuming spray of miniatures - typically English yet with classical overtones. The English elements are most strongly engaged with the first and last pieces. We return to Sargon for the Haas Trio which eulogises Karl Haas one of the most eloquent of spokesmen for classical music in the twentieth century. He championed Sargon's music. The trio is vividly alive, playfully touching and with a gallic edginess. The Vivo even has a faintly absurdist tone. This is music brimming with genuine life - melodic, tonal and pleasing. If you enjoy say Ibert, Poulenc or Gershwin then this is for you. Patterson's Duologue has been recorded before by Nick Daniel. This is every bit as good as the Daniel recording. The Recitative draws on dissonance but the oboe line is always pliant and yielding.

Another well annotated anthology from Crystal. I held onto this disc for review because of the Dunhill but discovered Sargon. I hope to hear much more of Sargon.

Rob Barnett



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