C. ARMSTRONG GIBBS (1889-1960)
Concerto for Oboe and Orchestra op.48 (1923)
Cyril SCOTT (1879-1970)
Concerto for Oboe and String Orchestra (1946)
Christopher WRIGHT (b.1954)
Concerto for Oboe and String Orchestra (2009)
Elis PEHKONEN (b.1942)
Amor Vincit Omnia for Oboe d’amore and Double String Orchestra (1994)
Jonathan Small (oboe/oboe d’amore)
Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra/Martin Yates
rec. The Friary, Liverpool, 31 March-1 April 2010
World premiere recordings
DUTTON EPOCH CDLX 7249 [66:35]
Allowing for several Hyperion collections, ASV inaugurated the trend towards collections of English concertos organised by this instrument or that: trumpet, cello, bassoon and oboe. As ASV expired so Dutton took up the baton. This is their most recent entry with two composers of the English musical renaissance and two living composers with a more than a little sympathy with the lyrical. We start with that water colour pastelist Armstrong Gibbs. Dutton have already revived his wonderful Odysseus Symphony (Epoch CDLX 7201 (2008)) and Marco Polo years ago issued a CD of his First and Third Symphonies (8.223553 (1994)). Hyperion have a disc of his lighter pastoral effusions. There are more and I hope much more to come. The 1923 Oboe Concerto shimmers with motes of grain and the heat haze of an English summer among the spinneys and stooks. It could hardly be more pastoral. Surprise, surprise, the dedicatee is Léon Goossens. It had a brief flowering but no bloom endured and after a false start with an enthusiastic Evelyn Rothwell it fell into the pit and was forgotten. Now rescued, this largely pastoral work with full orchestra only kicks the countryside character with the triumphantly happy finale. Wonderful stuff.
Liverpudlian mystic Cyril Scott's Oboe Concerto is with string orchestra. It's another Goossens work and dates from 1946. The composer's programme note reads rather antiseptically for a work that is typically rhapsodic and waywardly troubadourish. It's all rather haunting and lonely, plangent and eerie. Only in the finale is there something approaching jollity but even that is comparative. It's a lovely work and will pair contrastingly with the Arnold concerto - a lifetime favourite of mine. Chandos have done so much for the orchestral Scott. I do hope that the big choral orchestral piece The Hymn of Unity will be recorded. For now do get to hear this idiosyncratic Oboe Concerto by one of England's modern mystics.
Christopher Wright has already had a Dutton disc dedicated to his music and these have been praised by MusicWeb International. He wrote his Oboe Concerto in 2009 and like most of his other works it was written without the adventitious inducement of a commission. It's an exciting work, white hot with lyrical impulse and with echoes cutting quietly and at times bullishly across in currents from Tippett and Finzi. Wright was a pupil of Richard Arnell another composer whose late sunrise has been owed overwhelmingly to Michael J Dutton and the Dutton team.
Pehkonen has a handful of discs already devoted to his work and again these on Corinium have been reviewed here with evident pleasure. His works include two string quartets and four concertos. His Amor Vincit Omnia is for oboe d'amore and strings. The title is from Chaucer's Prioress's Tale. The piece runs to a compact 8:28. It's very introspective - a soliloquy in the glow of love without jagged contours and with the gentlest of melodic undulation. This is a work to hear and hear again. It grows in stature with each repetition and at its close that confiding decrescendo fascinates as it curves into a mesmerising niente.
The Pehkonen and Wright pieces are dedicated to Jonathan Small who is oboe principal of the RLPO.
Good notes from Lewis Foreman and the two living composers.
A most affecting disc from Dutton typically well annotated.
A most affecting disc from Dutton.