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|The Light Wraps You: New Music for Oboe
Rodney ROGERS (b. 1953)
Lessons of the Sky for oboe and piano
Bill DOUGLAS (b. 1942)
for Oboe and Piano (2004) [10:53]
James MACMILLAN (b. 1959)
Three Oboes (1991) [6:23]
Trio for Oboe, Bassoon and
Piano (2006) [14:12]
Andrea CLEARFIELD (b.
Three Songs for Oboe and Double Bass (after
poems by Pablo Neruda) [6:44]
Fulvio CALDINI (b.
Etude de réveil op 7/B for oboe and Clarinet
Phillip BIMSTEIN (b.
Cats in the
Kitchen for Flute and Oboe plus the Kitchen “Sync” (2007)
Donald Speer (piano); Bill Douglas (piano); Joseph Salvalaggio;
Martin Schuring (oboes); Frank Morelli (bassoon); Karl
Olsen (double-bass); John Cipolla (clarinet); Heidi Pintner
rec. May-June 2007, Recital Hall, Ivan Wilson Fine Arts
Center, Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green, Kentucky.
This disc, Michelle Fiala’s debut CD, contains
an interesting programme of new music for oboe, with all
the pieces heard here in their first commercial recordings.
The moto perpetuo opening of Rodney Roger’s Lessons
of the Sky immediately commands attention, with Fiala’s
beautifully phrased oboe heard over a toccata-like piano
accompaniment. The oboe sound is rich and warm, and the
melancholy middle section takes on a mournful tone. This
is an enjoyable effort which works as an excellent show-piece
for the oboe, with both lyrical and rhythmical sections.
Fiala’s expressive oboe playing is supported well by
pianist Donald Speer.
The first of two works on the disc by Bill Douglas,
the Sonata for Oboe and Piano, is an eleven minute
piece in three movements. The opening features a unison
melody between piano - played here by the composer - over
a gentle chordal accompaniment. The heavy syncopation demonstrates
the influence of popular and latin music rhythms, and the
structure is heavily influenced by jazz. The central movement
brings to mind the music of Vaughan Williams, through the
influence of British folk-song. There is a strong sense
of British pastoral music meeting the gentle influence
of American jazz, and it works well. The final movement
is an upbeat dance-like piece, which has a strong pulse
and is performed with energy.
Scottish composer James MacMillan’s Intercession for
three oboes is performed here with style. At times, one
could be forgiven for imagining that one player had multi-tracked
the whole thing; the intonation is excellent and the match
of tone quality is impressive. This is an astonishing piece
of music, which makes imaginative use of the three instruments
to powerful effect. These players - Michelle Fiala is joined
here by Joseph Salvalaggio and Martin Schuring - make it
seem easy. For me, the disc is worth buying for this track
The second Bill Douglas piece, Trio for Oboe,
Bassoon and Piano seems almost superficial in comparison,
but the contrast works well and the playing is light
and jazzy. Within seconds, the listener is transported
to a hotel lounge. It is a real delight to hear jazz
played on oboe and bassoon in such a convincing way.
The bassoon writing is particularly appealing, and it
is pleasing to see new additions to the instrument’s
repertoire such as this. This is a highly enjoyable piece
which is well performed throughout. I imagine it would
also be rewarding to perform, and I would urge players
to seek it out.
Andrea Clearfield uses the unusual combination
of oboe and double bass in a work composed for a married
couple, the bassist and oboist from the Philadelphia Orchestra,
Robert Kesselman and Jennifer Kuhns. The pieces take their
inspiration from Pablo Neruda poems, and the music has
sensuality and charm. Once again, the playing is excellent,
and the musical ideas are communicated well.
Etude de réveil begins with a dialogue
between oboe and clarinet, in a pointillistic style where
the colours of the individual instruments help to shape
the melodic line. The composer Fulvio Caldini explains
his respect for Steve Reich in the programme notes, and
the effect can be clearly heard as the music gains in complexity
with the repetition of gradually evolving melodic lines.
The effect is successful, and interest is maintained and
developed throughout this brief work.
The final work on the disc is the curiously unusual Cats
in the Kitchen by Phillip Bimstein. The accompaniment
is said to include “meows, purrs, cracked eggs, sliced
onions”, and a vast array of other bizarre things. There
is undeniably an element of comedic fun about this work,
which, despite the amusement, is created with imagination
and an excellence in composition. The rhythms are catchy
and the melody lines develop with a sense of inevitability.
This is unlike anything I have ever heard before – and
I love it.
Any performer who makes the effort to disseminate
new repertoire such as Michelle Fiala has done here is
to be applauded. This is a wonderful collection of recent
works, many of which will undoubtedly be new to most listeners.
The standard of playing is consistently high, and the music
is enjoyable and well written. Well worth listening to.
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