Antonio VIVALDI (1675-1741)
Concertos for Oboe and Strings in: A minor, F. VII, No. 13 [9.30]; D major, F. VII, No. 10 [7.23]; C major, F VII, No. 6 [14.00]; A Minor, F.VII, No. 5 [9.04]; F Major, F. VII, No. 12 [12.34]; D Minor, F. VII, No. 1 [7.59]; C Major, F. VII, No. 11 [10.07]; F Major, F. VII, No. 2 [7.48]
Alex Klein (oboe)
New Brandenburg Collegium/Anthony Newman
rec. 1 -3 September 1993, Performing Arts Center, SUNY, Purchas, NY
Vivaldi wrote 17 complete concertos for oboe and strings. These are highly demanding and the oboe repertory would not use such techniques again for 100 years. We don’t really know who they were written for. It is unlikely that the Venetian oboe virtuosos Albinoni and Marcello played them, as we would then have expected to find similar demanding playing techniques in their own concertos. The works are simply far more virtuosic and difficult than Albinoni’s famous concerto.
So it would seem that Vivaldi did write them for his pupils at La Pietà. In his CD booklet note, oboist Alex Klein suggests that each concerto has a distinctive didactic point; each concerto having at least one item of peculiarity to distinguish it from its companions. So presumably Vivaldi was writing the pieces to encourage and train a particularly good team of oboists - his catalogue includes three concertos for two oboes.
On this disc we have eight concertos played by Alex Klein who was principal oboist with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra from 1995 to 2004. Klein plays a contemporary oboe and is accompanied by the modern instrument group, the New Brandenburg Collegium, conducted by the baroque specialist Anthony Newman. The disc was recorded in 1993 and originally issued in 1995 but does not seem to have made it into the main review journals at the time.
The big selling point of the disc is Klein’s wonderful oboe sound: rich, luxuriant with great technical facility, no baroque gurgling here. Speeds are brisk, but never rushed and Klein’s playing is poised. He has complete control in the fast passages. The slower movements are full of beautifully spun lines. This is highly expressive playing; made even more so by the fine depth of sound that he brings to the solo line. If we have to have baroque music played on modern instruments then it should be like this.
The New Brandenburg Collegium sound to be a relatively small group and they provide crisply articulated accompaniments, with plenty of off-string bowing and a nice bounce. They manage to make their playing style seem natural, and not an artificial construct trying to mimic baroque techniques. The results are highly seductive and I cannot praise the disc too highly. Newman directs with brisk confidence.
If you enjoy baroque music played with the best contemporary techniques on modern instruments then this disc is for you. And if you generally don’t like modern instrument performances, then do try this one as the player’s technique and sound are so entrancing. Alex Klein’s beautifully toned account of the virtuosic solo parts contributes to a highly seductive whole.  

Robert Hugill
Klein’s technique and sound are entrancing. His beautifully toned account of the virtuosic solo parts contributes to a highly seductive whole. 

see also review by Kevin Sutton