21. Encounters with the oboe
« Principal oboist Theodore Baskin must be singled out for the beauty of his sound and the subtlety of his phrasing in the slow movements of both the second and third concertos. » – Paul. E. Robinson, Ludwig van Toronto
C.P.E. Bach’s style was already more transparent than his father Johann Sebastian’s when the G minor Oboe Sonata was composed c. 1734. It features expressive dissonance in the freely structured opening Adagio and an elegant minuet with variations in the finale. Schumann’s Three Romances were written in 1849, the composer’s self-described “most fruitful year,” during which he began to compose miniature cycles of character pieces for hitherto neglected chamber instruments. Among them are the delicate and passionate Romances for oboe and piano, all in ternary song form, with outer movements in A minor and a central A major movement marked simple, sincere.
Poulenc reverses the usual fast-slow-fast movement pattern in his Oboe Sonata, writing in 1962, “The first section will be elegiac, the second scherzando, and the last a sort of liturgical song.” Premiered shortly after the composer’s death in 1963, this work is dedicated to the memory of Prokofiev, whom Poulenc befriended in the 1920s.
Starting in 1935, Hindemith composed more than 25 sonatas for virtually every orchestral instrument. The first movement of the 1938 Oboe Sonata is marked Munter—meaning lively, awake—while the second movement opens with one of the most difficult slow phrases in the oboe repertoire. Structured ABA’B’, this movement also features lively, conversational fugato.
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