An Oboe Thread

Started by LKB, March 19, 2023, 07:38:11 AM

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LKB

Some time ago, a member suggested that perhaps l should start " an oboe thread ".

Ta-daaah!  8)
Mit Flügeln, die ich mir errungen...

Pohjolas Daughter

So, are you asking for favorite works?  Or composing works for oboe?  Or playing tips/advice?  Or how many people enjoy works for the oboe (which should involve a poll)?  You're in the "Composing and Performing" section.....

As for myself, I do love the oboe.  :)

PD
Pohjolas Daughter

Luke

Never written for solo oboe. But then I haven't written for anything much at all for a long time! But it's a glorious instrument, and its character quite suits my natural style, so maybe one day...

LKB

Since I've started it, a little background...

I played the oboe from 1976 until around 1996, when I had to stop due to some pain I began to experience.

During that twenty or so years, I was fortunate to be principal in collegiate orchestras and symphonic wind ensembles, and I scared up a few paying gigs in the opera pit, churches etc. along the way. ( A full-time professional career was never in the cards, I am largely self-taught and the holes in my technique are rather prominent. I'm also lazy as hell, and have never set knife to cane; all the reeds I ever played on were either gifted or purchased. )

I enjoyed playing immensely, particularly the solos which showcased the wonderfully expressive bel canto qualities which are unique to the instrument. Polovtsian Dances, that sort of thing.

Over the years I have admired the playing of Lothar Koch, Heinz Holliger, Pierre Pierlot, Ray Still, the Gombergs and my current favorite, Jonathan Kelly.

So that's me in a nutshell. I'd like to know about about your favorite players, solos, recordings etc.   8)
Mit Flügeln, die ich mir errungen...

Spotted Horses

I love the sound of the oboe. I distinctly remember being greatly impressed by recordings by Jürg Schaeftlein, the principal oboe of Nikolaus Harnoncourt's Concentus Musicus Wien, specifically the oboe solo in the aria "Ich Will Bei Meinem Jesu Wachen." The reedy sound of 18th century oboes is more attractive to me than the sound of the modern oboe.
There are simply two kinds of music, good music and the other kind. - Duke Ellington

Herman

The oboe, with its echoes of an older world, is a beautiful instrument.

The Poulenc sonata is the ultimate oboe piece for me. But there is also a lot of beautiful oboe writing in Ravel's L'enfant.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cwmHMhdJb94

DavidW

I really love the oboe glissando in Mahler's third.  It is rare to hear it in recordings because it is impossible to play on a modern oboe, and it was written for a Viennese oboe of the time.  If interested, check out this article:

https://www.fugato.com/pickett/mahler3-4.shtml

I think that also demonstrates the importance period instruments can have even in more recent music.

VonStupp

#7
I never really had an appreciation for the oboe until I heard Lothar Koch, the principal oboe in Berlin during HvK's years. He really made that instrument sound like pure heaven, and is one (of many) reasons I look forward to Karajan recordings.

Oboe is also handy if you need a duck sound! ;D
VS
"All the good music has already been written by people with wigs and stuff."

LKB

Quote from: VonStupp on April 02, 2023, 01:07:22 PMI never really had an appreciation for the oboe until I heard Lothar Koch, the principal oboe in Berlin during HvK's years. He really made that instrument sound like pure heaven, and is one (of many) reasons I look forward to Karajan recordings.

Oboe is also handy if you need a duck sound! ;D
VS

It was Lothar Koch who really caught my attention as well. His playing on von Karajan's recordings was the major motivating factor in my taking up the instrument, and l initially modeled my playing on what l thought he was doing ( having no teacher, l needed this sort of inspiration ).

Many or most American students back then disliked the German sound, and whenever l related my infatuation with Koch's playing they were truly shocked. But l was somewhat antisocial in those days, and it really didn't bother me much.

I think Koch's best years with the BPO ( at least on recordings ) were from the mid-1960's to the mid-1970's. His recording of the Strauss concerto is still my favorite, and his playing in the first von Karajan Brahms cycle is nearly unearthly in places, almost beautiful beyond belief in the Third Symphony.

As an aside, my handle here stands for " Lothar Koch's Boy ".  8)
Mit Flügeln, die ich mir errungen...

Karl Henning

Karl Henning, Ph.D.
Composer & Clarinetist
Boston MA
http://www.karlhenning.com/
[Matisse] was interested neither in fending off opposition,
nor in competing for the favor of wayward friends.
His only competition was with himself. — Françoise Gilot

Pohjolas Daughter

Quote from: LKB on April 03, 2023, 07:23:43 AMIt was Lothar Koch who really caught my attention as well. His playing on von Karajan's recordings was the major motivating factor in my taking up the instrument, and l initially modeled my playing on what l thought he was doing ( having no teacher, l needed this sort of inspiration ).

Many or most American students back then disliked the German sound, and whenever l related my infatuation with Koch's playing they were truly shocked. But l was somewhat antisocial in those days, and it really didn't bother me much.

I think Koch's best years with the BPO ( at least on recordings ) were from the mid-1960's to the mid-1970's. His recording of the Strauss concerto is still my favorite, and his playing in the first von Karajan Brahms cycle is nearly unearthly in places, almost beautiful beyond belief in the Third Symphony.

As an aside, my handle here stands for " Lothar Koch's Boy ".  8)

How would you describe the "German sound back then" vs.??

PD
Pohjolas Daughter

LKB

Quote from: Pohjolas Daughter on April 03, 2023, 12:08:05 PMHow would you describe the "German sound back then" vs.??

PD

Finally circling back here after an unintended interval...

In answering PD's question, l think that l should have worded that paragraph differently. I wasn't trying to suggest that the German oboe style has changed, l don't think that's the case.

What l meant was that back in those years, the brighter tone of Koch and other prominent Germans was unacceptable to most non-German oboists. There were specific national styles ( an orchestra's nationality could be identified by the sound of its oboes ), and to a certain extent there still are.

That being said, over the last thirty to forty years that brighter, singing German tone has found its way into some of the major orchestras of both England and France. I first noticed it in recordings of the LPO made with Tennstedt in the 1980's, and in French orchestral performances in recent years.

I should also mention that the American orchestras have remained largely unaffected, with the vast majority of American oboists playing with the same dark, woody quality as was being taught fifty years ago.

( Unfortunately, the American tradition of emphasizing technical command at the expense of musicality has also continued. )


Mit Flügeln, die ich mir errungen...

LKB

I thought I'd drop some links to some of my favorite bits from various media. Perhaps some will be familiar to some of you, but I'm betting most will not be...

I'll include timings for the YouTube links so folks can skip right to the juicy oboe goodness.  ;D

From the 1950's Victory at Sea score, specifically the track entitled " The Turkey Shoot ". This is a short solo featuring some of the most gorgeous playing I've ever heard, probably an American player taught in the French style, at 1'27":

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PG3QhVYkRvQ&list=OLAK5uy_ntIS30n77m2PukprYBauU_DY7PV96kVeU&index=8

My main inspiration for taking up the oboe, Lothar Koch, does a typically excellent job with the solo from the third movement of Brahms' Third Symphony at 21'27":

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QaItCES17AY&t=37s

Herr Koch again, in the final movement from Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde. 39'22" is a few seconds before his solo.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QQYKcih8OQg

In Johann Strauss II's " Der Zigeunerbaron " overture, I think this is Koch's traditional wingman in the Berlin Philharmonic, Karl Steins, at 1'30":

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xGs-5PVStOU

As a sendoff for Herr Koch, here's his studio recording of the Strauss concerto:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O1_nhc7CKUY

For something more recent, here's my man Jonathan Kelly opening the second movement of Tchaikovsky's Fourth:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VKfgSYvbohY&t=65s

That'll do for now. I'm going to try and find something special with Holliger, for a more modern sampling. Expect that soon-ish.  8)





Mit Flügeln, die ich mir errungen...

LKB

Heinz Holliger, making the rest of us feel inadequate:

https://youtu.be/agFBqxEDr6I

:o
Mit Flügeln, die ich mir errungen...

pjme


I love the oboe and am very fond of Koechlins sonata. I have it in two versions - Lencsés and Stefan Schilli.

I want to mention Belgian Piet Van Bockstal as he really tries to perform unpopular Flemish/Belgian composers.


he can be heard also in
Ahos concerto : https://youtu.be/fv5lFtMrfsk?si=btUdIx-03p5Vrxom
Victor Legley - oboe and strings : https://youtu.be/USSX22LnaBA?si=ejxJqD5SSmmBHbFS
Gabriel Verschraegen' Flemish danses : https://youtu.be/MiurOpg_bLw?si=Zzoats-plLFryhqz
Luc Van Hove: Tryptich (oboe & orchestra) : https://youtu.be/1Z97dpYZTvo?si=BXFcGxczcx1HyKyy
and from the 18th century: Vanhal: https://youtu.be/aHLBMaMhlEs?si=vOBc172bjLFvx7Ho






pjme


Although the clarinet has some of the most moving moments in this work, I particularly like the oboe in the first movement,  from ca 09.00 till 11.00 minutes in (timpani, celesta, bassoons, basses...).



LKB

A little bit of Bach, and a little bit of oboe technique...

Here's Albrecht Mayer performing Bach's famous Arioso from Cantata 156, as an encore following the Richard Strauss concerto with the BPO back in 2012. Thielemann is quite restrained, as he should be.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tsxP-YjDWlQ

While it's not particularly HIP to any great extent, there is still much to be said for this lovely performance.

I noted a spot where Mayer used an alternate fingering for B-flat, for coloristic purposes. At 1:22 he begins the phrase very quietly, and his fourth right finger - normally idle for this note - is engaged, resulting in what oboists call a " forked " fingering. This closes off the instrument somewhat and darkens the tone, producing a more ruminative, inward effect which is perfect for that point in the music - an astute choice by Herr Mayer.

At 1:26 he's back to normal fingering for the same pitch, and the brighter quality is very apparent.

Anyone who lives with the oboe for an extended period will come to know where these tonal options are possible and appropriate. And sometimes, one can even make unexpected discoveries...

I was in university, and we were rehearsing Strauss's Till Eulenspiegels lustige Streiche. We were chronically short of players, and there was nobody available to play the English horn part. We had been doing our best as usual, when the conductor looked at me and asked the seemingly impossible.

" There's an English horn solo here, a held concert F which is all by itself. Can you simulate an English horn, for just this one note? " ( This is not quite halfway through the piece, page 26 in the score. )

Now, this pitch normally sounds very different if played on an oboe instead of the English horn. But I was eager to experiment, and answered confidently.

It took maybe 15 minutes of combining unusual keys and fingerings, but I eventually arrived at a sound which was shockingly close to the objective, nearly indistinguishable in fact.

At the next rehearsal, as we neared the spot the conductor cocked an eyebrow at me. I nodded back, and when we got to the place I performed my little magic trick.

Forty-two years later I still chuckle at the reaction from my fellow players. Confused looks, turning heads, whispers... where was the invisible English horn and its player, unseen but obviously present? ( I realize now that I should have joined in, feigning puzzlement and craning my neck looking for an off-stage performer. It would have made the moment perfect. )

So that was how I learned that on the oboe, lovely secrets await those who will make an effort to discover them.  8)

Mit Flügeln, die ich mir errungen...

lunar22

#17
Quote from: DavidW on March 21, 2023, 06:48:34 AMI really love the oboe glissando in Mahler's third.  It is rare to hear it in recordings because it is impossible to play on a modern oboe, and it was written for a Viennese oboe of the time

by extraordinary co-incidence, I was at a performance of Mahler 3 in Stuttgart on Sunday and heard this unearthly plaintive oboe cry which I don't remember having noticed in a recording before. I can only assume the orchestra had managed to get hold of a Viennese oboe -- either that or the player was a genius. And I must say, I cannot think of another 19th century symphony with such extraordinary orchestral imagination. It was really ahead of its time. The performance actually confirmed my view that the 3rd is Mahler's greatest completed symphony (my favourite is 10), even if many might choose 6 or 9.