In the search for ever-new configurations of old beauty, oboist Albrecht Meyer has painstakingly reconstructed, even “rescued,” Mozart’s Oboe Concerto from its 1920 incarnation and given it a thoroughly modern gloss. Inspired by and working with conductor Claudio Abbado, Albrecht has rummaged through some selected Mozart opera and concert arias as well, trying to accommodate their often punishing tessitura on his reedy oboe, whose thin and nasal sound often resembles that of Heinz Holliger. The already spurious Violin Concerto “Adelaide,” K. 271a has been transcribed for an instrument Albrecht feels better suits its otherwise ungainly status in the violin repertory. Indeed, the soaring Andante and lusty Rondo-Allegro assume a vital, plastic energy that quite enchants we who could not quite be convinced by the violin version, despite Menuhin’s and Szeryng’s best efforts.
The album begins with the Andante in C for Flute, now having been transposed down for Albrecht’s plaintive oboe. The original scoring for two oboes in the orchestral part have been replaced with flutes to preserve the solo’s individuality. The close microphone often captures the sounds of his fingers on the stops, but there is no denying the easy facility of Albrecht’s playing. Albrecht adds his own cadenzas to the Concerto, which now flows with hearty galant elegance. The last movement has always remained a great favorite of mine, ever since I owned the old Leon Goossens/Colin Davis account. The arias, like Sperai vicino il lido, demand a high F, what Albrecht in his lengthy conversational notes calls “The Queen of the Night F.” Marvelous interior lines and pizzicati mark the replacement aria for Susanna, Al desio di chi t’adora. Albrecht’s oboe becomes a coloratura soprano of flexibility and burnished resonance. Much of the writing will likely recall the Oboe Quartet K. 370 for many auditors. The other composer on this disc, Ludwig August Lebrun (1752-1790), was a virtuoso oboe player contemporary with Mozart. Lebrun composed fourteen oboe concertos, and the D Minor is Albrecht’s favorite. The Allegro combines sturm und drang elements, especially in the tympani part, with an Italianate lyricism, a touch of Viotti. The Grazioso movement might have been composed by the youthful Weber. The virtuoso Rondo reflects Haydn”s rustic energy and Mozart’s Seraglio. One quibble with an otherwise peerless disc: the liner notes sorely lack any timings for the individual bands.