Classical CD Reviews

“British Music for Oboe and Strings” = Works by Joubert, Britten, Leighton, McDowell, McCabe – Jinny Shaw, oboe /Sara Trickey, v., Sarah-Jane Vukotic, c. /Orchestra Nova /George Vass – Guild

British music well performed and excellently recorded.

Published on October 18, 2013

“British Music for Oboe and Strings” = Works by Joubert, Britten, Leighton, McDowell, McCabe – Jinny Shaw, oboe /Sara Trickey, v., Sarah-Jane Vukotic, c. /Orchestra Nova /George Vass – Guild

“British Music for Oboe and Strings” = Works by Joubert, Britten, Leighton, McDowell, McCabe – Jinny Shaw, oboe /Sara Trickey, v., Sarah-Jane Vukotic, c. /Orchestra Nova /George Vass – Guild GMCD 7383, 77:24 [Distr. by Albany] ****:

This new CD recording of British music is a very agreeable collection of music by a variety of British composers, including Joubert, Britten, Leighton Cecilia McDowell and McCabe.

The first work is John Joubert’s Concerto for Oboe and Strings. Op. 160 Joubert was born in Cape Town, but spent most of his career in England. The concerto was completed in 2006. It is animated and lyrical. It is clearly of English descent, but the composer has his own unique approach to the music.

Next is the Britten Phantasy for Oboe, Violin, Viola and Cello Op. 2. This is an early and seldom heard Britten composition, completed when Britten was 18, and first heard in a BBC broadcast in 1933.The piece hints at Britten’s later symphonic works, and seems very mature for the young composer. There are hints and quotes from Mozart, but largely the work is clearly Britten. The work was called by some a work of genius, and it is a worthy listen.

The disc also offers the Concerto for Oboe and Strings Op. 23 by Kenneth Leighton. The piece was composed in 1953, but not premiered until 2001. It’s a strong work with English/Scottish overtones. The work starts in the style of a string orchestra, and then the oboe begins to get more and more centered in the work.

The McDowell is the most contemporary work here. McDowell was born in 1951, and The Gentle Dove for Oboe, Violin, Viola and Cello is a study of Welsh folk song commissioned for a 2007 festival in Wales. The one-movement piece evokes the beautiful Welsh countryside.

Finally, we have the McCabe Concerto for Oboe and Orchestra. John McCabe was born in 193. The Concerto was first heard in 1995. The composer says the work was inspired by the Vaughan Williams Oboe Concerto. 

This disc is exceptionally well performed and recorded. The soloists are precise in their playing, and as an ensemble they come together with unity and emotion. The recording is excellent, with string sounds that are realistic and the other solo instruments seem to occupy a real space between my stereo speakers. Special kudos to oboist Jinny Shaw, who plays with conviction and depth.

British Music for Oboe and Strings is certainly a worthwhile listen and will be a happy addition to your library if you love British music.

—Mel Martin




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