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Daniel & Drake

Recital for oboe & piano, 21 May 2006

Sonata in E flat BWV 1031 Bach
Romanzen Op.94 Schumann
The Bearded Lady Julian Anderson
Fantasia sopra Rigoletto Pasculli

Temporal Variations (1936) Britten
Sonata in G minor BWV 1030b Bach

100 listeners were regaled to an exceptional morning recital by this long established duo, who had not been back to Blackheath since their notable recital more than ten years ago.

Nicholas Daniel, once BBC Young Musician of the Year, now a world famous oboist, has extraordinary stamina, and this is the longest oboe recital I have ever heard (and the best). Everything was right, balance of programme, and balance with Recital Hall acoustic, preparation of the Blackheath Bösendorfer, which sounded fine in Bach (pace Colin Booth) and excellent programme notes augmented by interesting spoken introductions. I have mentioned Julius Drake in a recent discussion of so-called "accompanists".

I hadn't realised that the expansive Bach B minor flute sonata (I used to enjoy playing it on treble recorder) was originally for oboe; its first movement is one of Bach's longest and most beautiful.

Pasculli's unplayable music confirmed his reputation as the greatest oboist of the day; he got most of the tunes in Rigoletto into about 11 minutes "plus a lot more notes" (c.f. Opera Vox's 28 minutes Rigoletto).

Anderson's piece (inspired by Stravinsky's Rake's bride) makes Daniel think an opera should soon be on its way from so theatrical a composer; best not to anticipate or warn audiences about an 'event' near the end...

Britten's politically inspire Temporal Variations of 1936, originally unappreciated, withdrawn and finally disinterred by his teacher Janet Craxton, is the "highest level" work in the oboe and piano repertoire, Daniel avers and I concur. He gave us a gloss on each of its sections and their titles, including Commination (click the link if you too didn't know it?).

An unforgettably entertaining and illuminating recital. And look at Aleksander Madzar's recital programme below; don't miss it if you get up early and fancy a late breakfast and an exceptional pianist. Blackheath Sundays is on a roll!


© Peter Grahame Woolf