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Han de Vries – The Almost Last Recordings
Han de Vries (oboe) with accompaniments
DVD: That misery is a gold mine, a documentary film by Hans Polak
ATTACCA ATT2016149 [18 CDs plus DVD: 21 hours 30 minutes]

Four years ago I reviewed a big box of radio broadcasts by oboist Han de Vries (review) on Oboe Classics issued to celebrate his 70th birthday. Now here’s an even more extensive collection on Attaca consisting of 18 CDs and a DVD for his 75th, announcing itself as ‘the almost last recordings’ – so maybe, let’s hope, we can expect a final box.

I’ll quickly reprise a few biographical points. Han de Vries was born in The Hague in 1941 and became a pupil successively of Jaap and then Haakon Stotijn, a famous dynasty of oboists. After Haakon Stotijn’s death in 1964, de Vries replaced him as principal oboe of the Concertgebouw Orchestra, a position he held for seven years. Thereafter he balanced a prestigious solo career with membership of the Netherlands Chamber Orchestra. He played much modern music, as well as venturing into the past and playing baroque and classical oboes. He was soon seen as embodying the very best features of the Dutch School, a hybrid Franco-German one with an emphasis on a very personal, musical sound rather than any flaunting of virtuosity.

This set enshrines recordings made with his eminent colleagues and established ensembles taking in a third of a century of musical life in the Netherlands. Not everything, by any means, is from concert performance. The Mozart Adagio in C, K580a, for instance, is from an EMI LP, recorded in 1973. But this opening disc introduces us to companions such as pianist Stanley Hoogland, clarinetist George Pieterson, bassoonist Joep Terwey and horn player Vicente Zarzo in the Quintet in E flat and Beethoven’s Quintet in the same key from the same 1983 concert. Everything on disc two – the three Danzi Quintets and that by Reicha are from LPs. The last named was its premiere recording, made by de Vries and the Amati Quartet, a group that should be better remembered.

By contrast the Spohr and Crusell items on the third disc are all live; Spohr’s Grand Nonet is played by Harmonicorn which contained the essential personnel of some of the best Dutch, or Dutch-resident, orchestral and chamber players of their generation. Of particular distinction is the 1983 performance of Spohr’s Quintet, Op.52 – the joyful panoply of its Menuetto is worthy of the price of admission on its own. The ultra-atmospheric Loeffler Two Rhapsodies – texts and translations of the poetic inspiration for the piece are very helpfully included in the extensive booklet – are beautifully conveyed by de Vries, violist Marcus Thompson and pianist Jerome Lowenthal, the oboe sounding like a forlorn bagpipe in places. An extract from Karg-Elert’s Die Grablegung Christi shows how effective de Vries could be in other ensembles as well, here primarily vocal. But he’s back in central repertoire in this disc for Hindemith’s Sonata (from a 1976 EMI LP), and his Trio, Op.47, where he plays baritone oboe, live in 1995. Seiber’s elliptical 1957 Improvization adds grit. De Vries performed Maurice Ohana’s Neumes, a powerfully religious piece, the year before the composer’s death.

More contemporary repertoire appears in disc 5 – Berio’s Sequenza, written for Heinz Holliger, and Edison Denisov’s Quintet, which was written for the Danzi Quartet which plays it here – taut but rhythmically complex. Other pieces here were also written for the group though Antál Doráti’s Cinq Pièces are for solo oboe and are nicely characterised. The French muse occupies the next two discs where for three pieces Pascal Rogé lends his idiomatic support. Both Saint-Saëns’ Caprice and Ibert’s Five Pieces are infectiously coloured and full of élan and brio – the former especially. Listen to the phrasing in the Andante of the Ibert to hear just how eloquent this performance truly is. Françaix, as ever witty and cocky, occupies the other half of the disc, generating audience laughter in L’Heure du Berger. Sound quality here and throughout is excellent, whether transferred from LP or in live performance. Roussel’s exciting Divertissement, seven minutes of fizz, is followed by Milhaud’s early Sonata for flute, oboe, clarinet and piano, notable for its madcap Emporté movement.

Many will know de Vries for his recordings of Baroque music and they’ll want to know that there is a swathe of it in this set. Concertos by Albinoni, Vivaldi and JC Bach occupy disc 8; a variety of accompanying groups, among them I Solisti di Zagreb, the Combattimento Consort Amsterdam and the Concertgebouw Chamber Orchestra, show the high level ensembles with which the oboist worked over the two-decade span covered by this particular disc. Albinoni’s famous Op.9 No.2 concerto is in volume 9, with interesting decorations and taken at a flowing tempo. It’s good here to listen to the full-scale Concerto in F, T287/4 by JC Bach with the oboist’s own cadenzas.

It's unusual to come across Antoine Mahaut’s Concerto in G, originally written for flute, and Salieri crops up courtesy of his elegant Concerto in C of 1774 where the exchanges between the soloists, de Vries and flautist Leon Berendse, are full of refined virtuosity. The performance of Mozart’s Concerto in C, K314 is conducted by Jerzy Katlewicz. Ravel’s Pièce en forme de habanera is a bit of an interloper into this tenth CD – it’s from a Cala LP, licensed to Attaca for inclusion. Pocket concertos or concert pieces occupy disc 11 – Hummel, bel canto Bellini, lyric-virtuosic Julius Rietz. These are from EMI Electrola LPs, Willem Breuker’s Oboe Concerto No.2 ‘Wuivend Riet’ was written for de Vries. This is the audio of the premiere performance. You can find the film of the performance in one of the DVDs in the Oboe Classics box as you can his Concerto No.1, the audio of which is on disc 12 here coupled with Richard Strauss’ Concerto in D – Matthias Bamert conducting in 1990 – and Morton Feldman’s Oboe and Orchestra. This last is from a hatART CD of 2000. Another version of the same work with Jean Fournet conducting is also in the Oboe Classics box.

There were two versions of Bruno Maderna’s magnetic Concerto No.3 in that earlier box. Here we have Concerto No.1, again from a 1980 CD, on BV Haast. It’s typically fascinating, spatially, sonically and in every which way. Maderna’ Grande Aulodia has a sensuous beauty to it, irradiated by gorgeous colours, though its more dramatic moments allow contrast. Wolfgang Ludewig’s 1968 Essay is a rather more predictable offering of its time. For fans of Terry Riley’s In C, here is the Dutch premiere, given in the Concertgebouw in February 1972. The same programme also featured Residuals by Jaap Vink and Polo de Haas, somewhat strangulated and simmering away for its 17-minute length.

Early rep reappears in the final furlong. There’s Telemann in disc 15, largely the engaging Methodic Sonatas, and more Albinoni and some Gottfried Finger and Molter in the next disc – all from CDs. There’s a ‘light’ disc to follow, ex-Philips CD. This features arrangements by Stephen Dodgson and Gé Vrijens of popular opera arias and the like. Harry Rabinowitz directs the London Studio Orchestra in this 1992 offering. And finally, there is a back-to-the-beginning disc 18 where the earliest de Vries recordings are to be found. Inevitably perhaps these are all Baroque – Telemann, Vivaldi, de Fesch and Handel sonatas with pioneering experimenters in Early Music, cellist Carel van Leeuwen Boomkamp and harpsichordist Janny van Wering. Boomkamp taught Gustav Leonhardt, so there is a lineage at work in the Dutch interpretation of this repertoire on disc and in performance.

The final disc is a DVD, which follows the oboist as he meets figures from his childhood, is present at an exhibition of his artwork, drives one of his fancy cars and talks about life as orchestral player and soloist. It’s rather a moving hour-long document, revealing the childhood traumas he suffered – his mother was Jewish – and elements of his own inevitably troubled psyche. Nothing is sanitised, and some comments by others are not always flattering. He is unafraid to cry when childhood memories prove too troubling to recall easily. I am glad this DVD was included. It reveals the complexities, contradictions and confusions that lie behind the imperturbably eloquent public artist.

With an excellent 102-page booklet, in Dutch and English, this monumental box is another worthy salute to this great artist. I’m looking forward to resuming reviewing duties on his 80th birthday.

Jonathan Woolf

CD1 [61:35]
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Quintet in E flat, K452 (1784) [23:04]
Stanley Hoogland (piano): George Pieterson (clarinet): Joep Terwey (bassoon): Vicente Zarzo (horn)
Adagio in C, K580a (K.Anh.94) (1788-89) [6:13]
Members of the Amati Quartet
Divertimento in F, K213 [9:26]
Members of the Netherlands Blazers Ensemble
Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)
Quintet in E flat, Op. 16 (1796) [22:51]

CD2 [74:36]
Franz DANZI (1763-1826)
Quintet in B, Op.56/1 (1821) [14:03]
Quintet in G, Op.56/2 (1821) [14:05]
Quintet in G, Op.56/2 (1821) [20:56]
Danzi Quartet
Antonin REICHA (1770-1836)
Quintet in F, Op.107 (1821-26) [25:31]
Amati Quartet

CD3 [64:47]
Bernhard Henrik CRUSELL (1775-1838)
Divertimento in C, Op.9 (1823) [9:41]
Paul Rostenthal and Christiaan Bor (violins): Rainer Moog (viola): Godfried Hoogeveen (cello)
Louis SPOHR (1784-1859)
Quintet in C, Op.52 (1820) [25:11]
Stanley Hoogland (piano): George Pieterson (clarinet): Joep Terwey (bassoon): Vicente Zarzo (horn)
Grand Nonetto in F, Op.31 (1813) [28:55]

CD4 [72:32]
Charles Martin LOEFFLER (1861-1935)
Two Rhapsodies (1911) [22:30]
Marcus Thompson (viola): Jerome Lowenthal (piano)
Sigfrid KARG-ELERT (1877-1933)
Passionscanzone ‘Die Grablegung Christi’ Op.84: Introduction and Choral (1913) [5:43]
Bernard Bartelink (organ)/NCRV Vocal Ensemble/Marinus Voorberg
Paul HINDEMITH (1895-1963)
Cor anglais sonata (1941) [10:28]
Rudolf Jansen (piano)
Trio for oboe, viola and piano, Op.47 (1928) [14:07]
Henk Guittart (viola): Ivo Janssen (piano)
Mátyás SEIBER (1905-1960)
Improvization for oboe and piano (1957) [3:30]
Maurice OHANA (1914-1992)
Neumes (1965) [7:41]
Ivo Janssen (piano)
Mario LAVISTA (b.1943)
Marsias for oboe and eight crystal cups (1985) [8:30]

CD5 [60:34]
Luciano BERIO (1925-2003)
Sequenza VII for solo oboe (1969) [7:35]
Edison DENISOV (1929-1996)
Quintet (1969) [6:54]
Jan van VLIJMEN (1935-2004)
Quintetto a fiata No.2 (1972) [21:22]
David PORCELIJN (b.1947)
Pulverizations (1972) [11:05]
Danzi Quintet
Antál DORÁTI (1906-1988)
Cinq Pièces, for solo oboe (1981) [13:37]

CD6 [65:21]
Camille SAINT-SAËNS (1835-1921)
Caprice, sur des aires danois et russes, Op.79 (1887) [10:23]
Jacques IBERT (1890-1962)
Cinq Pièces, en trio (1935) [7:14]
Alexandre TANSMAN (1897-1986)
Le Jardin du Paradise: La Danse de la Sorcière (1922) [4:10]
Jacques Zoon (flute): George Pieterson (clarinet): Joep Terwey (bassoon): Vicente Zarzo (horn): Pascal Rogé (piano)
Jean FRANÇAIX (1912-1997)
Quintet No.1 (1948) [18:51]
Danzi Quintet
Trio for oboe, bassoon and piano (1994) [16:52]
Milan Turkovic (bassoon): Ivo Janssen (piano)
L’Heure du Berger (1947) [7:49]
Jacques Zoon (flute): George Pieterson (clarinet): Joep Terwey (bassoon): Vicente Zarzo (horn): Pascal Rogé (piano)

CD7 [66:16]
Camille SAINT-SAËNS (1835-1921)
Oboe Sonata in D, Op.166 (1921) [10:47]
Rudolf Jansen (piano)
Albert ROUSSEL (1869-1937)
Divertissement, Op.6 [7:00]
Darius MILHAUD (1892-1974)
Sonata for flute, oboe, clarinet and piano, Op.47 (1918) [19:37]
André JOLIVET (1905-1974)
Sonatina for oboe and bassoon (1963) [7:37]
Jacques Zoon (flute): George Pieterson (clarinet): Joep Terwey (bassoon): Vicente Zarzo (horn): Pascal Rogé (piano)
Francis POULENC (1899-1963)
Oboe Sonata (1962) [13:20]
Makoto SHINOHARA (b.1931)
Obsession for oboe and piano (1960) [7:53]
Rudolf Jansen (piano)

CD8 [70:30]
Tomaso ALBINONI (1671-1751)
Concerto in B flat, Op.7 No.3 (1715) [8:15]
Combattimento Consort Amsterdam/Jan Willem de Vriend
Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741)
Concerto in C, Op.8 No.12 RV449 [8:58]
Concerto in B flat, RV548 [8:36]
Concerto in D, Op.8 No.9, RV454 [7:58]
I Solisti di Zagreb/Tonko Ninic (violin, RV548)
Concerto in G, Op. 11 No.6, RV460 [11:17]
Concerto in A, Op.3 No.8, RV522 [11:06]
Jaap van Zweeden (violin, RV522)/Amadeus Ensemble/Marien van Staalen
Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)
Concerto in D for oboe, violin, strings and continuo [14:20]
Jaap van Zweeden (violin)/Concertgebouw Chamber Orchestra

CD9 [72:07]
Tomaso ALBINONI (1671-1751)
Concerto in D, Op.9 No.2 (1722) [11:33]
Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)
Concerto in G for oboe, strings and continuo after BWV1056 and BWV156, reconstructed by Winfried Radeke [10:26]
I Solisti di Zagreb/Tonko Ninic
Georg Philipp TELEMANN (1681-1767)
Brockes-Passion, TWV5:1: Sinfonia in G (1716) [9:24]
Amsterdam Chamber Orchestra/Herman Krebbers
Cantata BWB12 ‘Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen’: Sinfonia (1714) [2:50]
Cantata BWV21 ‘Ich hatte viel Beküummernis’: Sinfonia (1723) [2:56]
Oster-Oratorium BWV249, Sinfonia (1736) [4:06]
Johann Friedrich FASCH (1685-1750)
Concerto in G, FWV L:g1 [9:56]
Johann Christian BACH (1735-1782)
Concerto in F, T287/4 (c.1770) [20:57]
Combattimento Consort Amsterdam/Jan Willem de Vriend

CD10 [71:48]
Antoine MAHAUT (1719-c.1785)
Concerto in G [9:54]
Radio Chamber Orchestra/Leo Driehuys
Antonio SALIERI (1750-1825)
Concerto in C for flute, oboe and orchestra (1774) [18:36]
Leon Berendse (flute)/Netherlands Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra/Hartmut Haenchen
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Oboe Concerto in C, K314 (1777-78) [19:57]
Noordholland Philharmonic Orchestra/Jerzy Katlewicz
Oboe Concerto in E flat (K.Anh.294b) [19:45]
Prague Chamber Orchestra/Anton Kersjes
Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937)
Pièce en forme de habanera (1907), orch. Arthur Hoérée
Philharmonia Orchestra/Geoffrey Simon

CD11 [71:57]
Johann Nepomuk HUMMEL (1778-1837)
Introduction, Theme and Variations in F, Op.,102 (c.1824) [14:35]
Vincenzo BELLINI (1801-1835)
Oboe Concerto in E flat (C.1819) [7:53]
Julius RIETZ (1812-1877)
Oboe Konzertstück in F, Op.33 (c.1856) [14:27]
Nicolai RIMSKY-KORSAKOV (1844-1908)
Variations on a theme by Glinka in G for oboe and wind band (1878) [9:16]
Amsterdam Philharmonic Orchestra/Anton Kersjes
Willem BREUKER (1944-2010)
Oboe Concerto No.2 ‘Wuivend Riet’ (2000) [25:45]
Lost bagpiper: Ton Lutz/Metropole Orchestra/HK Gruber

CD12 [59:53]
Willem BREUKER (1944-2010)
Concerto No.1 for oboe, B flat saxophone and chamber orchestra (1992/1994) [19:08]
Breuker Kollektief
Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949)
Oboe Concerto (1945) [23:58]
Radio Chamber Orchestra/Matthias Bamert

CD13 [65:21]
Bruno MADERNA (1920-1973)
Oboe Concerto No.1 (1962-63) [19:46]
Rundfunk Kammerorchster des Saarländischen Rundfunks/Lucas Vis
Grande Aulodia for flute, oboe and orchestra (1969) [26:10]
Roberto Fabbriciani (flute, alto flute)/Sinfonieorcheter des Südwestfunks/Bernhard Klee
Wolfgang LUDEWIG (b.1926)
Essay for oboe and strings (1968) [12:00]
Netherlands Chamber Orchestra/Marc Andrae
Toru TAKEMITSU (1930-1996)
Gémeaux: I Strophe, for oboe, trombone and two orchestras (1971) [7:23]
Vinko Globokar (trombone)/Cologne Radio Symphony Orchestra/Hans Zender and Peter Eötvös

CD14 [70:36]
Terry RILEY (b.1935)
In C (1964) [53:12]
Jaap VINK (b.1930)/Polo de HAAS (b.1933)
Residuals (1970-72) [17:22]

CD15 [62:56]
Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741)
Trio Sonata in G, RV81 [6:49]
Piet Dhont (oboe): Albert de Klerk (organ)
Georg Philipp TELEMANN (1681-1767)
Methodic Sonata in B flat, Op.13 No.10 TWV 41:B5 (c.1732) [9:32]
Methodic Sonata in C, Op.13 No.8 TWV 41:c3 (c.1732) [8:51]
Methodic Sonata in C, Op.13 No.12 TWV 41:C3 (c.1732) [12:47]
Methodic Sonata in G, Op.13 No.1 TWV 41:g3 (c.1732) [7:54]
Wouter Möller (cello): Bob van Asperen (harpsichord)
Sonata in A (Der getreue Music-Meister), TWV 541:a3 (1728-29) [7:23]
Johann Joachim QUANTZ (1697-1773)
Trio Sonata for two oboes and organ QV2:41a [9:40]
Piet Dhont (oboe): Albert de Klerk (organ)

CD16 [57:42]
Concerto (Suite) in D for trumpet, two oboes, taille, bassoon sna dharpsichord [17:52]
Gottfried FINGER (c.1660-1730)
Sonata in C for trumpet, oboe and bassoon [6:07]
Tomaso ALBINONI (1671-1750)
Concerto in C for trumpet, three oboes, two bassoons and harpsichord [9:30]
Georg Philipp TELEMANN (1681-1767)
Concerto in D for trumpet, two oboes and basso continuo [14:20]
Johann Melchior MOLTER (c.1695-1765)
Sinfonia concertante in D, MWV VIII 2 [9:50]
Wolfgang Basch (trumpet): Bart Schneemann (oboe): Maarten Dekkers (oboe and cor anglais): Vicente Zarzo and José Zazro (horns): Frans Robert Berkhout and Brian Pollard (bassoons): Wouter Möller (cello): Bob van Asperen (harpsichord)

CD17 [68:51]
Jules DEMERSSEMAN (1833-1866) and Félix-Charles BERTHÉLEMY (1829-1868)
Duo Brillant on Rossini’s Guillaume Tell arr. Stephen Dodgson [10:30]
Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901)
La Traviata:L Parigi, o cara, arr. Gé Vrijens [4:49]: Un di felice, arr. Gé Vrijens [3:19]
Gioacchino ROSSINI (1792-1868)
Il Viaggio a Reims: Al barbaro rigor, arr. Gé Vrijens [1:50]: Ah! No, arr. Gé Vrijens [2:17]
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Così fan tutte, K588: Prenderò quell brunettino, arr. Gé Vrijens [2:53]
Don Giovanni, K527: Là ci darem la mano, arr. Gé Vrijens[2:22]
Vincenzo BELLINI (1801-1835)
Norma: Deh! Con te li prendi…Mora, o Norma, arr. Gé Vrijens [4:35]:
La Sonnambula: Prendi, l’anel ti dono, arr. Gé Vrijens [4:14]
César CUI (1835-1918)
Cinq petits duos, Op.56 arr. Stephen Dodgson [9:44]
Giacomo PUCCINI (1858-1924)
Tosca: E lucevan le stele, arr. Gé Vrijens [3:50]
Pyotr Illych TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893)
Pique Dame: Uzh vecher, arr. Gé Vrijens [3:53]
Ignaz MOSCHELES (1794-1870)
Concertante in F for flute, oboe and orchestra [14:33]
Jacques Zoon (flute)/London Studio Orchestra/Harry Rabinowitz

CD18 [66:56]
Georg Philipp TELEMANN (1681-1767)
Sonata in B flat, TWV 41:B6 [13:37]
Sonata in G (Tafelmusik III No.5) TWV 41:g6 [11:53]
Sonata in E (Essercizii musici No.11) TWV 41:e6 [8:29]
Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741)
Sonata in G, Op.13 No.6 RV58 (Il Pastor Fido) [7:20]
Willem de FESCH (1687-1761)
Sonata in E, Op.3 (1736) [10:38]
Georg Frideric HANDEL (1685-1759)
Sonata in C, Op.1 No.8, HWV366 (c.1711-12) [7:25]
Sonata in B flat, HWV357 ‘Fitzwilliam’, (c.1707-1710) [7:37]
Carel van Leeuwen (cello): Janny van Wering (harpsichord)

DVD19 [59:55] Documentary film



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