Classical CD Reviews

COLIN MAIER: ‘Advice from a Misguided Man’ = Colin Maier, oboe/various performers – CMCD

Misguided? – maybe a little.

Published on March 5, 2013

COLIN MAIER: ‘Advice from a Misguided Man’ = Colin Maier, oboe/various performers – CMCD

COLIN MAIER: ‘Advice from a Misguided Man’ = Colin Maier, oboe/various performers – CMCD001, 51:33 (TrackList follows) **1/2:

Colin, I’m sorry but I don’t get it.

Colin Maier is a Canadian oboist who apparently specializes in what his own website calls “theatrical performance” oboe. He is a good player and his colleagues in the “Misguided Band” are all fine players as well. Maier also performs with the Quartet Gelato that apparently performs with a “theatrical take on the classical genre.”

In live performance, I am somewhat assuming (no, hoping) that the theatrical and humorous aspect of his performance will come across more than it does on a recording. Just as an analogy; a very inadequate one, I realize, the grand master of classical music humor is Peter Schickele (AKA “P.D.Q. Bach”). In Schickele’s music, the jokes are all in the music itself and translate quite well to recording.

This collection by Colin Maier is extremely disjointed as a listening experience.  I find that, for me, the selections fall into three general categories.

Some selections are what might be considered atypical settings and accompaniments of straight up classical selections. The Donizetti Concerto on themes from his La Favorita (accompanied by accordion!) is a prime example. The Saint-Saens Oboe Sonata is another. Maier performs these works perfectly well.

Then there are the selections that are some sort of ethnic/cultural inspired improvisatory mélange. The opening The Pipes, reminiscent of Scottish-Canadian music and the Eastern tinged Bakön is another. These actually sound good and provide a nice alternative feel. I would like to hear a whole set of just this type of thing. I think the other works, composed and arranged by Meier and his band that worked for me are the jazz tinged Song for Magdalena (music by Hilario Duran) and the beautifully ambient Isn’t it Wonderful (music by Rebecca Pellett).

I admit I had major issues with some of the very Dadaist and eccentric selections that feature performers interjecting bizarre spoken commentary and/or singing. For example, there is the very bizarre Page 10 (in which there is some hard to describe Sprechstimme) or perhaps the chicken call infused How to Do It (that also features some fairly frenetic vocalization) – not to mention the unsettling How to Eat Cheese and the inexplicable Dear Jeremiah.

To be fair, I quote from Colin’s website: “It’s just music.” Would that it were true. Colin Maier is indeed a good oboist and some of these selections are both impressive and make for good listening. I especially enjoyed the Songs of the North Woods.   As I mentioned, I think presentation hurts this disc – too many very different things at once and I’m willing to bet that, just as entertainment, Colin’s live show is a very different feel.

I still have a little trouble with the bizarre, faux avant-garde tone of some of the selections such as How to Do It.  In summary, for me, some nice oboe playing (and I would to hear Maier do some “legit” stuff) and some good ensemble playing.  As a package, this is just not my deal. Others may think it’s spectacularly entertaining.

TrackList:

1. The Pipes
2. Page 10
3. Bakön
4. How To Do It
5. Concerto sopra motive dell’opera La favorita di Donizetti
6. How To Eat Cheese
7-9. Oboe Sonata (Saint-Saens)
10. Dear Jeremiah
11. Song for Magdalena
12. Bohbins
13. Isn’t It Wonderful
14. Songs of the North Woods, No.1

—Daniel Coombs




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