A finely-balanced program of works featuring the oboe virtuoso in various chamber aggregations with strings, and in one selection also with clarinet. That last selection is the major work here: the Prokofiev Quintet, which achieves almost a chamber orchestra sound with the added weight of both the clarinet and doublebass in the quintet. It was a commission from a small touring ballet company with just five musicians. The scenario – titled Trapeze – was based on circus life and sports several rhythmically-complex sections. Its six short movements delve into both the excitement of the circus as well as its sad moments.
Mozart’s Oboe Quartet is just in time for the master’s 250th birthday this month. It is an intimate chamber work with frequent use of one of the composer’s favorite devices – the rondo. Benjamin Britten’s Phantasy is in a single nearly 14-mnute movement but ties together many different episodes, all of them involving a spirited exchange between the solo oboe and the string trio. The recording venue was a hall in Worcester, Massachusetts, and the multichannel option places the players much more realistically on the soundstage than the two-channel, plus giving a hint of the hall’s acoustics around the listener.
– John Sunier