Strauss, R Oboe Concerto; Serenade
In the summer of 1945 a group of American soldiers called on Richard Strauss at his villa in Garmisch. Among them was John de Lancie, who pre-war had been principal oboe with the Pittsburgh Orchestra. He expressed admiration to the composer and asked if he would consider writing an oboe concerto. Strauss categorically rejected the idea. But he obviously changed his mind soon afterwards, and the present work was premiered in Zürich in 1946. It is engagingly light-hearted, the outer movements very busy with a natural virtuosity, but delicately articulated here by François Leleux. The first movement has great charm. The Andante is a sad little song without words; then follows a brilliant cadenza before the elegantly lively finale.
The pair of Wind Suites, however, date from the very beginning of Strauss’s career. The Op 4 Suite is Baroque in derivation, with a Gavotte and a closing Introduction and Fugue, but the Op 7 Serenade of 1882 is rather fuller in sonority, with rich use of the horns and a feeling of “lyrical euphony”, to quote the writer of the excellent booklet-notes, Guido Fischer. All the music is beautifully played here, with François Leleux leading the Ensemble Paris-Bastille spontaneously and elegantly. The Oboe Concerto is a live recording but all three works enjoy an ideal acoustic and are beautifully balanced.