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The World of the Oboe
rec. locations and dates, none specified
For full track-listing & performers see end of review
OBOE CLASSICS CC2026 [60:43 + 61:15]

I suppose the subtitle of this engaging two-disc set says it best; ‘an introduction to the music, players, reeds and instruments’. There’s an enjoyable essay from Jeremy Polmear to read in the booklet, an interview between Polmear and Peter Wiggins entitled ‘How A Reed is Made’ and a look - written look, that is - at an Oboe Factory. Then there are the notes to the pieces performed. All this before one settles down to listen to the music, which is varied and various, leading one to wonder whether we may not have entered into the Worlds of the Oboe rather than just the singular.
The discs from which the majority of these extracts are drawn are noted in the final pages, so if the music whets the appetite - and some of it surely must - then you know where to go, armed with label and catalogue number.
The music largely presents small self-contained works or extracts of whole movements from larger pieces - a couple from Le Tombeau de Couperin, the opening movement from Bach’s Violin and Oboe Concerto, or the second movement of Elizabeth Maconchy’s Oboe Quintet for example. A few pointers may be in order. Whilst many of the tracks clearly derive from previous Oboe Classics releases this shouldn’t necessarily be seen as a ‘Best Of’ compilation as some are previously unreleased or accessible via named web sites other than Oboe Classics. Still, it’s true that the large majority are derived from Oboe Classics’ own discs.
The first disc introduces Han de Vries - subject of a wonderful Oboe Classics box reviewed on this site. Marios Agiros brings out the sheer charm of Napoléon Coste’s little offering. David Cowley deftly characterises Ravel, Polmear plays Morricone’s Gabriel’s Oboe - a simplified version of the tune from The Mission - and it’s simply lovely. Bravo to the circular breather extraordinaire, Christopher Redgate, as he negotiates the tour de force that is Padsculli’s Le Api; you fear for the oboist’s health in this one. Mozart needs to be represented and he duly appears in the obvious shape of his Oboe Quartet, whilst the last movement of Gordon Jacob’s Sonatina is full of his puckish drollery. There are very few historical recordings here, and in any case the label has already done much in this line. Still, it’s reasonable that they should include two of the Leon Goossens tracks that they’ve already released elsewhere.
There is a sizeable contingent of oboists and their confreres in this disc and it would take me an eternity to mention them all by name, though they are all listed in the track-listing. But it would be remiss to overlook Agiros’s unveiling of the catchy Quebra Queixo by Celso Machado. It’s good to hear even just this one movement of Geoffrey Bush’s ‘frolic-to-fanfare’ 1952 Trio. Emily Pailthorpe and pianist Julian Milford are good with their Ravel. There’s a rather anomalous arrangement by Wenzel Sedlak of Florestan’s aria from Fidelio; Elaine Douvas and Pailthorpe are the intrepid soloists shadowed by wind players of the New York Met. Maconchy’s work is tougher fare, but the oboe has been in the vanguard of modernism. We touch on Dutilleux but his Sonata was written in 1947 - the scherzo is a sinewy march. James MacMillan’s Intercession is a seven-minute affair full of pibroch peal and constant timbral interest. Clara Schumann’s Romance soon calms things. Such conjunctions are part of the appeal of the disc, and I particularly liked the whimsical programming by which the angularity of Cameron Sinclair’s gnarly, swatty music for The Fly is followed by the playful waltz of Paul Basler. It’s right however that we end with Berio’s Sequenza VII.
Jonathan Woolf 
A pleasurable gift for the enquiring or potentially enquiring oboe lover.
CD 1
Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)
Concerto for Oboe and Violin, 1st movement [5:06]
Han de Vries (oboe)
Jaap van Zweden (violin); Concertgebouw Chamber Orchestra
Napoléon COSTE (1805-1883)
Consolazione - Romance [2:46]
Marios Agiros (oboe); Dimitris Dekavallas (guitar)
Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856)
Romance no 1, Op 94 [3:07]
Jeremy Polmear (oboe); Diana Ambache (piano)
Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937)
Le Tombeau de Couperin; Prélude [3:10]
Emily Pailthorpe (oboe); Julian Milford (piano)
Pièce en form de Habañera [3:11]
David Cowley (oboe); Bryan Evans (piano)
Dragonfly [1:28]
Uchenna Ngwe (oboe); Philip Cornwell (piano)
Ennio MORRICONE (b.1928)
Gabriel’s Oboe [2:05]
Jeremy Polmear (oboe); Diana Ambache (piano)
William BOYCE (1771-1779)
Sonata No.10 Allegro [2:34]
Catherine Smith and Deirdre Lind (oboes)
Deirdre Dundas-Grant (bassoon); Alastair Ross (harpsichord)
Antonio PASCULLI ((1842-1924)
Le Api [4:20]
Christopher Redgate (oboe); Stephen Robbings (piano)
Harold ARLEN (1905-1986)
Somewhere over the Rainbow [2:11]
Julia White (oboe); Marcus Andrews (piano)
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Oboe Quartet K370; second movement [4:04]
Jeremy Polmear (oboe)
Sophie Langdon (violin); Martin Outram (viola); Susan Dorey (cello)
Gordon JACOB (1885-1984)
Oboe Sonatina, 4th movement [2:49]
Althea Talbot-Howard (oboe); Katharine May (harpsichord)
Gabriel FAURÉ (1845-1924)
Pièce (vocalise 1914) [2:56]
Leon Goossens (oboe); Clarence Raybould (piano)
Léo DELIBES (1836-1891)
The Flower Duet [3:53]
Elaine Douvas and Emily Pailthorpe (oboes); Elizabeth Martyn (piano)
Joseph Bodin de BOISMORTIER (1689-1755)
Sonata; Modèrement [1:48]
Mark Baigent, Julian West, Jessica Mogridge (oboes)
Quebra Queixo [4:39]
Marios Argiros (oboe); Dimitris Dekavallas (guitar)
Camille SAINT-SAËNS (1835-1921)
Carnival of the Animals; The Swan [2:24]
Leon Goossens (oboe); Clarence Raybould (piano)
Hamilton HARTY (1879-1941)
Chansonette [3:45]
Mark Baigent (oboe); Eileen Pearce (piano)
Dance of the Black Sea [2:06]
Jeremy Polmear (oboe); Diana Ambache (piano)

CD 2
Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893)
Eugene Onegin (opening scene) [4:04]
Emily Pailthorpe and Elaine Douvas (oboes); James Martin (piano)
Geoffrey BUSH (1920
Trio, 1st movement (1952) [4:47]
Jeremy Polmear (oboe); Philip Gibbon (bassoon); Diana Ambache (piano)
Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937)
Le Tombeau de Couperin; Menuet [4:59]
Emily Pailthorpe (oboe); Julian Milford (piano)
Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)
Fidelio; Florestan’a aria; Introduction and Aria arr. Sedlak [4:57]
Emily Pailthorpe and Elaine Douvas (oboes); wind players from the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, New York
Elisabeth MACONCHY (1907-1994)
Oboe Quintet (1932), 2nd movement [3:48]
George Caird (oboe); Simon Blendis and Alison Dods (violins); Louise Williams (viola); Jane Salmon (cello)
Henri DUTILLEUX (1916-2013)
Oboe Sonata 2nd movement [4:03]
Emily Pailthorpe (oboe); Julian Milford (piano)
James MacMILLAN (b.1959)
Intercession (1991) [7:15]
Mark Baigent, Julian West, Jessica Mogridge (oboes)
Clara SCHUMANN (1819-1896)
Romance no 2, Op 22 [2:53]
Jeremy Polmear (oboe); Diana Ambache (piano)
Benjamin BRITTEN (1913-1976)
Pan from Six Metamorphoses [2:22]
Nicholas Daniel (oboe)
Alan RICHARDSON (1904-1978)
Rendezvous from French Suite (1949) [3:03]
Mark Baigent (oboe); Eileen Pearce-Davies (oboe)
The Fly (2003) [7:43]
Janey Miller (oboe); Joby Burgess (marimba, log drums, sandpaper blocks, whip, electronics)
Vocalise-Waltz (1996) [6:22]
Jeremy Polmear (oboe); Stephen Stirling (horn); Richard Saxel (piano)
Edwin ROXBURGH (b.1937)
Silent Strings (2005) [3:38]
Paul Goodey (oboe); Sally Mays (piano)
Luciano BERIO (1925-2003)
Sequenza VII (1969)
Christopher Redgate (oboe); Roger Redgate (violin)