CD review: Vaughan Williams and MacMillan oboe concertos (Sinfini Music)
‘A gorgeous recording – highly recommended’ – Five stars from Sinfini Music
Nicholas Daniel shot to fame upon winning the BBC Young Musician of the Year competition with Vaughan Williams’ oboe concerto, and here he returns to the work on a disc of luscious English pastoralism. Suffusing its lyricism with wistful longing, Daniel gives a performance both reflective and robust. He handles the juxtaposition of lyrical and scherzo-like material with élan, integrating both into a sweeping arch to poignant effect.
Marking the Britten Sinfonia’s 20th birthday celebrations, MacMillan’s One is a monody for orchestra. A keening folk tune passes between instruments, opening into a more urgent central section before an enigmatic closing statement. The Britten Sinfonia produce some gorgeous colours, at times Britten-esque, in an evocative performance.
MacMillan’s Oboe Concerto is an ambitious and demanding work for both soloist and ensemble. Intricate textures constantly evolve under moto perpetuo passagework which sweeps up to the extremes of the oboe’s range, punctuated by bold wind exclamations. The Largo is the heart of the work: based on material written in the wake of 9/11, the sorrowful dissonances and anguished outbursts build in intensity, arriving at a section of fierce conflict. The shadow of this movement hangs over the finale, a nightmarish dance with spiky passagework and chaotic swirlings.
Britten’s Suite on English Folk Tunes ‘A Time There Was’ completes the recording. Alternating between a chamber concerto texture and more operatic moments, the Britten Sinfonia’s bright, open sound suits the optimistic nature of the work. A gorgeous recording – highly recommended.