Vaughan Williams and MacMillan - Oboe Concertos
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Label: Harmonia Mundi
Cat No: HMU807573
Number of Discs: 1
Release Date: 7th April 2015
WorksSuite on English Folk Tunes, op.90 'A time there was...'
One for chamber orchestra
Oboe Concerto in A minor
ArtistsNicholas Daniel (oboe, cor anglais)
Two major British oboe concertos featuring soloist Nicholas Daniel with the Britten Sinfonia.
Composer James MacMillan conducts the world premiere recording of his own Oboe Concerto (dedicated to Nicholas Daniel), as well as his 2012 composition 'One' and the Britten 'Suite on English Folk Tunes: A Time There Was'.
The oboist himself directs the Ralph Vaughan Williams concerto, the work with which he won the BBC Young Musician of the Year Competition at the age of 18.
1Vaughan Williams - Oboe Concerto in A minor - I. Rondo Pastorale
2Vaughan Williams - Oboe Concerto in A minor - II. Minuet and Musette
3Vaughan Williams - Oboe Concerto in A minor - III. Finale (Scherzo)
4MacMillan - One
5MacMillan - Oboe Concerto - I. [marcato e ritmico]
6MacMillan - Oboe Concerto - II. Largo
7MacMillan - Oboe Concerto - III. Allegro
8Britten - Suite on English Folk Tunes - Cakes and Ale
9Britten - Suite on English Folk Tunes - The bitter whey
10Britten - Suite on English Folk Tunes - Hankin Booby
11Britten - Suite on English Folk Tunes - Hunt the Squirrel
12Britten - Suite on English Folk Tunes - Lord Melbourne
The main coupling is James MacMillan's Oboe Concerto of 2010. Written expressly for Nicholas Daniel, and conducted by the composer, this sets considerable technical challenges for the soloist. According to Daniel, 'It's arguably the most technical concerto in an oboistic sense […] since Elliot Carter's. In fact I have found it harder to learn than the Carter.' Nevertheless, this is an accessible work, infused as it is with MacMillan's own folk music sensibilities. The outer movements are playfully quirky, and though there are full orchestral outbursts, they never drown out the soloist, who showcases a dazzling array of techniques. The central Largo is searingly melancholic, based on MacMillan's earlier work, In Angustiis, a response to the 9/11 attacks. In its new context, it is an excellent expressive foil to the liveliness of the Concerto's outer movements.
MacMillan's Concerto is prefaced by a shorter work, One for chamber orchestra (2012), composed by him for Britten Sinfonia's 20th anniversary celebrations. Inspired by the world of traditional Celtic song, it is an exploration of the coloristic possibilities of monody: a single melodic line which is subject to constantly varying instrumentation and effects, before briefly blossoming into harmony at the end.
Britten's popular late Suite on English Folk Tunes 'A Time There Was' makes the perfect filler, its various moods and textures handled with tremendous spirit and assurance by the orchestra which bears his name. MacMillan again conducts, and Nicholas Daniel returns for the cor anglais solo of the final number, 'Lord Melbourne', while Manon Morris's harp solo in the second movement also deserves special praise.
Enjoying a nicely balanced and focused recording from St John's Smith Square, it all adds up to a splendid celebration of British music, released with perfect timing for the onset of spring.
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