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Poetic Inspirations
for Oboe, Viola, and Piano

August Klughardt Schilflieder (Songs of the Reeds)
Charles Martin Loeffler Two Rhapsodies
Felix White The Nymph’s Complaint for the Death of her Fawn
Marco Aurélio Yano Modinha
Paul Hindemith Trio for Viola, Heckelphone & Piano

Alex Klein, oboe Richard Young, viola Ricardo Castro, piano

Cedille Records CDR 90000 102

This Chicago based label rarely disappoints, and I open each of their releases with keen expectation. This one celebrates to captivating result an instrumental combination you likely never heard in recital.

I generally ignore CD titles, but this one is pertinent. The poems which inspired three of these instrumental works are given in full; Andrew Marvell's for Felix White filling four columns.

Who Felix White? Ricardo Castro gives the background to this undeservedly near-forgotten composer "more talented than successful". His essay reminds us of the imbalance between supply and demand, never more so than now. He was a prolific English composer (1884-1945) whose orchestration of the Diabelli Variations surely intrigues and must be worth a hearing? This three part scena, praised by Vaughan-Williams, follows Marvell's 'dark and tragic story' - it is a major achievement.

Klughardt's settings of Lenau (the verses printed in the score above relevant passages) mirror the tale of lost love and final wistful reconciliation. Loeffler's Rhapsodies are based on Rollinat poems, post-Romantic expressions of belief in enlightenment after traversing "the darkness"; fine pieces in the vein of Fauré & Chausson.

The little piece by the short-lived Yano (1963-1991) was a personal gift to Alex Klein from a Brazilian friend who wrote it as an addendum for the limited repertoire for this trio combination; an expression of feeling denied to him in other ways - a heavily handicapped man, quadriplegic from birth...

If you knew as little as me about the hecklephone (a sort of bass oboe, claimed also by bassoonists) click here to discover all ! Otto Leuning quotes the amazingly prolific Hindemith - 'no finer craftsman in the 20th century' - as having confessed that 80% of his music is 'crap'. But he believed in Gebrauchmusik ("music for use") and his way of working necessitated over-production for the 20% of gold, amongst it this rarely heard trio. Unlike Brahms, who discarded music which fell beneath his exacting standards, Hindemith published everything, making a steady income and leaving it possible to revaluate his output. A highly inventive and exciting piece in two main sections, it builds its material from a brief 'wild, schizophrenic Solo for piano'.

The performances display conviction which carries you along, and they were well recorded at WFMT Chicago last year. The booklet is a model design by Melanie Germonand, filled with thought-provoking texts written by the three players, the material and illustrations all of great interest.

Recommended uneservedly.

Peter Grahame Woolf

Alex Klein can also be heard in chamber music by Britten (Fantasy Quartet Op.2) and Arthur Bliss' Oboe Quintet (1927) with the Vermeer String Quartet [Cedille CDR 90000 093], demonstrating that his rediscovery of Felix White was part of a systematic research into British music for his instrument, whose repertoire was greatly extended by the advocacy of Leon Goossens, who premiered both these works.
I personally prefer the Britten, which has proved the more enduring, to the Bliss composed in the English-pastoral style of the time. The main work is a sensitive account of the late, haunting 3rd Quartet of Britten which is now well established in the recital and recordings repertoire. PGW

[See other Cedille reviews in Musical Pointers]