NIKOS SKALKOTTAS: Concertino; KALEVI AHO: Seven Inventions with Postlude for oboe and cello; R. STRAUSS: Concerto for Oboe and Small Orch. – Yeon-Hee Kwak, oboe/ Munich Radio Orch./ Johannes Goritzki/ David Pia, cello – MDG Scene multichannel & 2+2+2 SACD 903 1598-6, 52:17 [Distr. by E1] ****:
The major work here is the lovely Strauss Oboe Concerto. It came about in the last year of WWII, when the first chair oboist of the Pittsburgh Symphony, John de Lancie, was a soldier in Garmisch, Bavaria, where Richard Strauss was living. He had a long conversation with the composer and asked Strauss if he had ever written an oboe concerto, to which he said no. Later, however, this oboe concerto came about, and was premiered in Zurich, Switzerland. It is a cheerful and gleeful work, a total contrast to the sombre Metamorphosen which Strauss had composed just before. The small orchestra setup is similar to what Mozart had used.
Skalkottas had studied with both Kurt Weill and Schoenberg, but his three-movement Concertino of 1939 is fairly tonal and its first and last movements full of gaiety. It demands considerable technical skills of the performer. The closing movement is in the style of a tarantella, with hints of Stravinsky and jazz. Aho’s Seven Inventions date from 1986, and are designed to showcase the unique sound qualities of the two instruments. This disc was a co-production with BR Klassik.
A Texas singer-songwriter’s legend lives on with this journey of personal discovery and anecdotal cleverness.