Paul PATTERSON (b. 1947)
Phoenix Concerto (2009) [24:19]
Ralph VAUGHAN WILLIAMS (1872-1958)
Oboe Concerto (1944) [19:30]
Herbert HOWELLS (1892-1983)
Oboe Sonata for oboe, string orchestra and harp (orch. Benjamin Wallfisch) (1942) [23:37]
Emily Pailthorpe (oboe)
English Chamber Orchestra/Benjamin Wallfisch
rec. Henry Wood Hall, London, 7, 9 March, 16-17 May 2010
Emily Pailthorpe’s warmly sinuous yet well defined oboe sound has already made its mark with two discs: Though lovers be lost and Opera divas. In this third disc her golden yield and glow can be heard in two rarities and one classic.
You can learn more about Paul Patterson at his website. You may also like to look at MWI’s reviews of his The Hells Angels and the Cello Concerto. His Phoenix Concerto - the longest of the three here - opens in sylvan enchantment but soon picks up vertiginous speed. It emulates elfin creature chased and perhaps not wanting to be caught - its flight is by no means terrified. The central Tranquillo deploys a peaceful cello line while Pailthorpe’s oboe explores some sultry labyrinth where the sun beats down on rocks high above. There are times when this sounds akin to another treasure of the repertoire: Malcolm Arnold’s oboe concerto. The rushing and alert finale twists and turns in attractive intricacy.
We’ll ignore the otiose hyphen in Vaughan Williams’ name; Champs Hill’s exemplary track record shows they know better. Fortunately it’s the music that matters and this is a very fine performance. The soft turning of this music has never been heard projected with such gentle warmth - at least not on record. The Minuet and Musette dances in poetry. The fairy flight, swooning ecstasy (1:10) and delicate dancing zephyrs of the third movement are lovingly handled and poised.
There’s far too little Howells so we can be thankful for Benjamin Wallfisch’s unerringly orchestrated Concerto fashioned from the Oboe Sonata. It’s all very pastoral, verdant, lush and dreamy. The suggestion of heat haze off yellowing sun-drenched fields is most sensitively done. The finale is a lovely warm processional flecked with a little pulse of urgency. It is engagingly Waltonian at times and when this happens there’s a rhythmic crackle to the proceedings. Finally there’s a typically unhurried and breath-defying faded decrescendo into that haze. Wow!
The notes are by none other than Malcolm MacDonald and are spot-on.
Rob Barnett

Pailthorpe’s warmly sinuous yet well defined oboe sound … its golden yield and glow can be heard in two rarities and one classic. 

For other reviews of the Vaughan Williams concerto, see here.