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Oboe: Berio & Beyond

Oboe: Berio & Beyond-Oboe
ID: CC2015 (EAN: 5023581201524)  | 1 CD | DDD
Publi: 2006
Oboe Classics
REDGATE, Christopher (oboe) | REDGATE, Roger (violin) | WARBURTON, Julian (percussion)
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The 24-page CD booklet has a 6,000 word programme note in English, with a description of the works, the performers, and many photographs.

Oboe+' brings together a group of works for oboe that, with the exception of Berio’s Sequenza VII, have not been recorded before. Sequenza VII was written at the end of the 1960s, a time that had seen a great deal of experimentation with composers exploring the wide range of new sounds available. The Sequenza is an exceptional work that brings together many of the sounds and techniques of the period and integrates them into a work of extraordinary beauty and power. Alongside the development of new sounds and extended techniques came music that demanded from the performer a great deal technically, musically and emotionally. The other works recorded here are fine examples of music from this genre. The ‘new sounds’ can be divided into different categories: Firstly there are the sounds that are easy to make on the instrument. The only example on this CD is the use of key-clicks - this is simply produced by tapping the keys of the instrument hard enough to make a noise. An obvious example of this on the CD can be heard in Argrophylax at 5:10 or 16:18. In the second example the sound is also amplified. Secondly, there are the new sounds that are an extension of techniques that already exist: double, triple and flutter tonguing, range extension and quarter tones. A combination of double and triple tonguing can be heard in Argrophylax at 9:20, while flutter tonguing can be heard in Ausgangspunkte at 2:9. The extension of the range can be heard in Ausgangspunkte at 6:20. Quarter tones are used extensively in many of the works, but a particularly fine example can be found in Pavasiya at 4:17. Sequenza VII uses a few microtonal trills an example of which can be heard at 1:14. Thirdly, sounds that take the oboe into new territory: multiphonics. The performer, through a careful use of exotic fingerings and careful control of the embouchure, creates several pitches simultaneously. Every work on the CD uses these sounds often in combination with other techniques. Recoil uses multiphonics extensively from the opening bar while in Sequenza VII the multiphonics are almost ‘ghost like’ at 6:50. You can also find examples of trilling between different multiphonics in Ausgangspunkte at 10:06. Circular breathing, the technique which allows oboists to maintain very long phrases without seemingly taking a breath is also used - the most obvious example can be found in ‘…sting of the bee…’ One of the striking feature of the music on the CD is the way in which the composers are thinking about and writing for the instrument, often creating a sound world that many would not relate easily to the traditions of the oboe. In a masterclass a few years ago I was demonstrating the highest notes of the instrument and was told that it 'didn’t sound like an oboe’. A better comment would have been ‘I have never heard an oboe sound like that before’. While the other composers on the CD may not necessarily point to Berio as an influence in their work, the Sequenza is a good starting point for music that explores some of the most technically challenging music in the repertoire. Berio had a great interest in virtuosity, which is expressed and explored in his series of Sequenzas. He emphasises, however, that this virtuosity is not simply that of fast fingers but a virtuosity of the intellect as well. Similar statements could be made about the other works on this CD. This is music that demands a great deal of listener and performer alike. It is virtuoso music in the sense that there are many notes and great technical challenges, but unlike much music that could be placed under the banner of ‘virtuoso’, this music is neither frivolous nor is it easy listening. There is great passion here, focused intensity, intellectual depth, it is music that is exuberant, moving and challenging. Michael Finnissy talks in his programme note for Pavasiya of stretching the ‘virtuosic limits of the oboe(s) to the utmost’. This statement could equally be applied at different levels to the other works on this CD, each of which stretches not only the instrument but also the performer. During the course of these works you will hear most of the significant technical developments that have taken place in recent years. One of the aims I had in the recording was to maintain the physical nature of this music. An essential aspect of a number of these works is that they live on the edge of being unplayable. In live performance things do go wrong, notes are missed, the performer can sound as if he/she is struggling to play the works. In this recording I have tried to maintain this quality by not editing out some of the struggles and obvious areas where I find the works technically challenging. The CD opens with one of my solo improvisations. Most of my recitals include improvisation not only in works that demand it, but also improvisations that I myself have developed over a period of time. Improvisation in the ‘classical’ world is seen usually to be the domain of the organist or of the expert baroque specialist, all of which I welcome. In my case however I perform solo (and sometimes duo/trio) improvisations to which I give names. Each improvisation has elements that I wish to explore. These can be technical ideas, formal ideas, pitch ideas etc, and the music is frequently a mixture of many different elements. But improvisation does not stop here. Many of the works on the CD have some elements of improvisation. The Berio asks for an improvisatory approach to the placing of some of the pitches within a very strict framework - the performer’s response to the written text is a vital part of the performance of this work. Young’s work also has a great deal of improvisation both in terms of choice of pitches and the pacing of the work through to the response to the computer’s input. copyright 2006 Christopher Redgate
1. '...sting of the bee...' (Improvisation, 2006) Christopher Redgate (oboe)5:32 
2. Ausgangspunkte Christopher Redgate (oboe)11:28 
3. Argrophylax Christopher Redgate (oboe)19:39 
4. Pavasiya Christopher Redgate (oboe/oboe d'amore)14:37 
5. Recoil Christopher Redgate (oboe)9:35 
6. Sequenza VII Christopher Redgate (oboe)8:04 


"This extraordinary disc from the oboe fanatic's label is a showcase for multiphonics, triple tonguing, flutter tonguing and circular breathing. But while the sounds and their production are compelling, this is intensely meaningful virtuosity... Although primarily an interpreter, Redgate improvises on "Le Api" ("The Bees") by 19th century oboist Antonino Pasculli, blasting through a compendium of extended techniques like a free jazz wildman... Forget the instrument's bucolic image, this is a great recording of new music."
The Wire

"The works receive performances which are both technical feats of virtuosity as well as the products of a virtuosic imagination. Interestingly, listening to Sequenza VII after the other works, which push the oboe beyond the extremities of register and technique, reveals new perspectives on the work - never have I experienced such a tender reading of the work, particularly during the final section in which the multiphonics stand so elegantly poised.

"Redgate's programme note claims that Ausgangspunkte, by the performer's brother, Roger Redgate, is 'the most difficult work in the repertoire', a claim which to this listener certainly seems justified. The work leaps across and beyond the register in both rapid and slow passages, instilling a response in the listener which is both agitated and compelling. Despite its no doubt rigorous compositional structures, the kaleidoscopic and menagerie-like hysteria makes for an intensely physical experience and it is amongst Redgate's finest works.

"Michael Finnissy writes so well for wind and Pavasiya is a powerful, yearning work for oboe and oboe d'amore. Despite the flurries which occur sporadically, the impression is one of sustained lyricism - no quasi-romantic gestures here, though, but an earthy, primeval force, free of cultivated clutter.

"The disc opens with a solo improvisation featuring a whirlwind of trills of all kinds, including extraordinary multiphonic trilling, which bears comparison to the solo improvisations of saxophonist Evan Parker."
Philip Thomas, Society for the Promotion of New Music Magazine


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