music has been conspicuously absent from the catalogue
for many long years. Now, all of a sudden, come several
discs entirely devoted to his music. NMC released two discs:
orchestral on NMC
and piano music on NMC
Classics’ recent CD of the oboe music, excellently
by John France, shares several works with the one now under
was trained as a professional oboe player and has performed
new works for the instrument. It is thus not surprising
that his output includes a number of works for oboe. These
were written throughout his career. The earliest work dates
from 1969 whereas the most recent was completed in 2007.
Several of his works for oboe are connected in one way
or another with other prominent oboe players. Thus, Aulodie
(1988) were composed for Léon Goossens
on his 80th
birthday respectively. Elegy
was written ‘in memory of Janet Craxton’. Finally, Study
(2007), dedicated to Lady Barbirolli, was written
for the Barbirolli International Oboe Festival and Competition
earliest work here, Images
does not display any
particularly new oboe techniques. These are rather to be
heard briefly and tellingly in the piano part which includes
some playing inside the instrument. The music mostly unfolds
as a succession of short contrasting episodes, often accompanied
by angular and capricious piano writing.
for oboe and string trio may be one of the first works in which Roxburgh
explored contemporary oboe techniques such as multiphonics,
flutter-tonguing and the like. These are to be heard in
the earlier stages of the work where they combine or confront
the strings until they resolve into characteristic sound
in the coda that is pure magic.
very title of Aulodie
refers to the Greek aulos
its three movements (Paean, Hermes, Ariadne’s Thread) are
exactly what their title suggests. Paean
outer sections framing a livelier episode. Hermes
a Scherzo moving at great speed and slowing down for the
central section. The work ends with Ariadne’s Thread
appropriately enough, a long melody unfolding peacefully
over a spare piano accompaniment. The music dispenses with
all contemporary techniques and exploits the many possibilities
of “traditional” oboe playing.
most substantial work here, Elegy
more complex. It is scored for a small mixed ensemble:
violin, viola, cello, flute, clarinet, percussion and electronics.
The electronics must have been used quite sparingly for
I could not detect any of it, even after several attentive
listening sessions. The work opens calmly with the strings,
later flute and clarinet joining the oboe and weaving some
close counterpoint. A short-lived crescendo punctuated
by multiphonics and the percussion’s first entry launches
into a new section that soon becomes more animated. Another
slow section with punctuation from the cello and the percussion
follows. This into the beautiful, appeased coda.
, too, uses new techniques but, as is the case with Eclissi
these are for expression’s sake and are never overdone.
Some of the music is not unlike that heard in Aulodie
memory of Adrian Cruft) and Study 1
any modern oboe techniques. Cantilena
is a straightforward
and deceptively simple piece of great charm consisting
of a long, almost endless melody unfolding over a crystalline
accompaniment. Study 1
for solo oboe is also fairly
traditional, emphasising the melodic character of the instrument
while being challenging enough as befits a test piece for
Redgate plays wonderfully throughout, be it in the somewhat
simpler works or in the more complex and demanding ones.
He gets superb support from all concerned and the whole
is beautifully recorded. I was particularly delighted to
listen to a disc of music for oboe without being disturbed
by the various clicks or breathing noises that sometimes
disfigure such collections.
very fine disc is an excellent survey of Roxburgh’s oboe
music. It splendidly demonstrates the composer’s breadth
of vision, from the straightforward to the more complex
without ever losing anything of his personality.