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CD: Crotchet

Edwin ROXBURGH (b. 1937)
Study 1 (2007) [5:04]
Aulodie (1977) [13:50]
Images (1967) [5:44]
Eclissi (1971) [8:09]
Antares (1988) [9:38]
Elegy (1982) [16:39]
Cantilena (1991) [7:14]
Christopher Redgate (oboe, oboe d’amore); Stephen Robbings (piano)
Ensemble Exposé/Roger Redgate (Elegy)
rec. Coombehurst Studio, Kingston University, 2 March 2008 (Elegy), 13 April 2008 (Eclissi, Antares, Aulodie) and 26 May 2008 (Images, Study 1, Cantilena)
METIER MSV28508 [66:08]
Experience Classicsonline

Roxburgh’s chamber music used to be a fixture of the YCAT concerts that I used to attend years back – and apparently it still is, which is all to the good. Himself a professional oboe player few are more qualified to write for the instrument, taxing expressive and technical demands equally but ensuring that a just balance is held between them. This particular disc is one of a welcome number recently devoted to his compositions.
Study 1 was a test piece written in 2007 and dedicated to Lady Barbirolli for the Barbirolli International Oboe Festival and Competition, held this year (2009). It tests intonation, breath control, virtuosity, control of tempo but also makes requisite demands on the projection of its lyric pulse, something the composer never neglects. These components are, in effect, ones of indivisible binding strength. Aulodie was written for Leon Goossens’s eightieth birthday and offers some real charm, from the dappled piano writing and alternating strong chording to the oboe’s songful cries, cresting overhead, in the opening Paean. Hermes, the second and central movement, offers a scherzo-like frolicsome profile, whilst the finale is ruminative and reflective.
Images involves harmonics on the oboe and some strumming inside the keyboard, devices that add colour and sonority to the syntax of the work – and to a number of Roxburgh’s other works as well. Such elements are present in Eclissi which was written in 1971 – multiphonics, flutter-tonguing and glissandi. This is written for oboe and string trio and one feels a lessening of initial vibrancy towards a more meditative and reflective sense of repose – almost, in fact, serenity. 
Antares offers compact multiphonic statements, urgent and insistent, but all coalesces in a pellucid lyric resolution. Similarly impressive is the - once again - multiphonic Elegy, written for oboe, violin, cello, flute, clarinet, percussion and electronics. The percussion-fuelled outbursts here are terse and strong and offer an extreme of response to the prevailing multiphonics. For all that its name might imply quietude the Cantilena is not entirely untroubled by some piano extroversion and a coiling oboe line.
The instrumentalists all play with the most adroit technical and expressive control. Christopher Redgate vanquishes one virtuosic challenge after another and brings to these works an eloquent awareness of their variousness.
Jonathan Woolf

see also review by Hubert Culot



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