Italian Oboe Concertos
Oboe concertos from baroque times are plentiful but thereafter the species became endangered; romantic oboe concertos are something of a rarity. Bellini's charming work, more or less what you might expect of one whose name is so firmly linked to opera, is a product of his youth and his only concerto for any instrument; It extends the past rather than smooths the passage to the twentieth-century revival of the form. Even the earlier Cimarosa, adapted by Arthur Benjamin from keyboard sonatas is an ersatz oboe concerto, albeit a successful and oft-recorded one. Familiarity and popularity seem to be the key words in this programme, in which the remaining works are old friends, with a liberal choice of alternative versions on Compact Disc. Eleven of Vivaldi's 19 completed oboe concertos have been recorded (two more on LP only), which leaves a fair tract of fresh ground to be tilled. Albinoni, too, was generous to the oboe in his Concerti a cinque (Opp. 7 and 9), of which Op. 9 No. 2 has had the lion's share of attention, even had Marcello been equally so, which he wasn't, how could you resist the familiar D minor?
The programme is, though, perhaps what we should expect from a soloist on his concerto debut disc, he plays quite superbly, with precise articulation, in fluid lines, and with a tone from which all sharp edges have been lovingly polished. He projects the spirit of each work and movement very well, but whilst his sound is finely attenuated in the slow movement of the Marcello, his embellishments are not always convincing. The orchestra display stylishness, unanimity and moderated weight, under which the friendly jangle of the harpsichord is never concealed. Despite the famiharity of most of its music, this is a very enjoyable and well recorded disc.'