Monday, October 15, 2018 Wigmore Hall, London
Reviewed by Barnaby Page for Classical Source

Not only is the oboe recital a relatively rare beast, but Nicholas Daniel and Charles Owen brought to Wigmore Hall a delightfully mixed programme of ear-opening novelty.

Perhaps the high point was Pavel Haas’s Suite of 1939, not least for the prominent role given to the piano, sometimes co-operating with the oboist and sometimes opposing. By turns aggressive and lyrical, it was given a reading of great sympathy.

The other highlight was a single note: the oboe’s very first one in the Bach, invested by Daniel with such poetry and meaning, as well as downright beautiful tone. The rest of this Sinfonia arrangement was surprisingly (or perhaps, given that note, unsurprisingly) Romantic from both performers, but it convinced all the same.

Daniel describes Julian Anderson’s The Bearded Lady (written for him in 1994, and based on the Baba the Turk character from Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress) as “musical camp”, but it has a hard edge too: perhaps more so than the decidedly tongue-in-cheek Russian Maiden’s Song. There was little hardness in evidence during the York Bowen Sonata, but there is luxuriance and delicacy, and it was masterfully played.

Broadcast live on BBC Radio 3 (available on BBC iPlayer for thirty days afterwards)

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