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Daystream Dances
Women composers for the oboe
Cynthia Green Libby (oboe), Peter Collins (piano)
rec. details not given, c.2000 DDD
HESTER PARK CD 7707 [63:18] 
Experience Classicsonline

Madeleine DRING (1923–1977)

Three Piece Suite [11:50]
Willametta SPENCER (b 1932)

Adagio and Rondo (1960) [8:10]

Daystream Dances (1995) [6:50]
Zhanna KOLODUB (b 1930)

Concertino for oboe and piano (1994) [9:34]
Rhian SAMUEL (b 1944)

Traquair music – Sonata for oboe (1988) [7:33]
Vivian FINE (b 1913)

Sonatina (1939) [5:53]
Roselyne MASSET–LECOCQ (b 1950)

L’Oiseaux des Galaxies (1977) [1:33]
Libby LARSEN (b 1950)

Kathleen, As She Was (1988) [5:11]
Dulcie HOLLAND (b 1939)

The Fallen Leaf (1970) [3:32]
Diane KEECH (b 1945)

Scherzo Rondoso [2:30]


Unlike the majority of the composers on this interesting recital, Madeleine Dring is well enough known these days, and her light and attractive style, especially in her songs, has captivated many. The Three Piece Suite is full of good things and an easy-going lyricism is abundant in all three movements, the middle, slow, one is particularly heart warming and meltingly lovely. There’s a tinge of Poulenc and Lord Berners in the outer, fast, pieces which, when passed through Dring’s mind go to make a most attractive composition.

Recipient of a Fulbright Scholarship in 1953, Willametta Spencer is a noted organist and musicologist as well as a composer. Adagio and Rondo is neo–classical in feel, the Adagio not too dark, and the Rondo nicely balances it combining an Hindemithian angularity, in its main theme, with a slight Parisian accent.

Barbara Harbach’s Daystream Dances are two fresh and light pieces, tinged with a little hint of jazz, and full of the typical Harbach open air quality; they are tuneful and very pleasant. Neither has the depth of Harbach’s bigger chamber works but the second piece – Reeling Dusk – shows a more serious intent. Russian Zhanna Kolodub’s Concertino for oboe and strings is heard here in an arrangement for piano made by the composer. It doesn’t show any Russianness in its writing. Beginning and ending in a pastoral mood –although at the end the music is more "knowing", more mature, because of what has happened in the middle – it contains a section of more animated and angular music. The composer never looses sight of how to communicate with her audience and this is a most satisfactory work – I would love to hear it with strings, and to hear some more music by Kolodub.

Rhian Samuel’s work is called Sonata for oboe on the rear inlay and the back page of the booklet, but the notes talk about a piece called Traquair music, so I have listed her work under both titles for I am not sure which is correct. Perhaps both, for this is a Sonata in layout and form. The three movements have sufficient variety to keep the interest of the listener, never an easy thing to do in a work for a solo instrument which cannot supply its own harmony. It’s an easily approachable work – unlike some of the pieces of Samuel’s I have heard – and this performance is most persuasive.

Vivian Fine’s neo-classical Sonatina is a lovely piece, but far too short – who wouldn’t want a bit more of this delicious music? The outer movements are full of interesting chatter and the slow movement has more depth to it than one would suspect from such a small work. As soon as I saw a reference to birds in the title of French composers Roselyne Masset–Lecocq’s L’Oiseaux des Galaxies my heart sank. Birds and French composers, for me, means hours of tedium. But this is a sparkling little piece and at one and an half minutes there’s no worry that the lethargy supplied by an evening of a catalogue of birds could happen. Nice miniature this, and a very pleasant surprise.

For Libby Larsen’s Kathleen, As She Was the pianist moves to harpsichord which gives the recital a welcome change of timbre, yet, with the use of this most delicate of keyboard instruments, we get the most serious of works. Despite the short timespan there’s much in this composition – not least a terse argument, based on an idea filled with grace notes.

Dulcie Holland and Diane Keech both supply light-textured encore pieces.

This is a most interesting and fascinating collection of very programmable works for the

oboe and it should be of interest to all players of the instrument and all who have an interest in it, and, as befits the best kind of programming, this CD has a well balanced mixture of the not so well known and the much less well known, with a winner from Madeleine Dring. .

The recording is a bit boxy and there’s some inconsistency in volume – the Solo Sonata of Rhian Samuel is perfectly placed but it is louder than what precedes and succeeds it, because the solo instrument is too close to the microphone. That said, Cynthia Green Libby is a fine player and a most winning advocate for this music, some of which she commissioned, and this disk has much musical interest to offer.

Bob Briggs


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