Though Lovers be Lost
Hard to believe, I know, but this is the third recording of Sir Eugene Goossens’ Oboe Concerto of 1927 to have come my way in as many months. However, it differs from both those accomplished readings featuring Ruth Bolister (ASV, 4/04) and Nancy Ambrose King (Cala) by presenting the work in its original guise for oboe and piano. (Eugene accompanied his brother and dedicatee, Leon, at that February 1929 Boston world première; the orchestral version was finally heard in London the following year.) Emily Pailthorpe proves no less assured an exponent of a single-movement work that packs a wealth of strong invention into its 12 minutes; Julian Milford tenders sympathetic support.
The Goossens forms the concluding item in an appealing programme, the highlight of which perhaps comprises a mellifluous performance of Dutilleux’s neglected 1947 Sonata (like the same composer’s earlier Flute Sonatina, conceived as a test piece for examinations at the Paris Conservatoire). Elsewhere, the arrangement of Ravel’s Le Tombeau de Couperin by the soloist’s husband, Daniel, is enjoyable enough, though not as effective as that of Finzi’s deeply felt Interlude by the composer’s dear friend and colleague, Howard Ferguson. With a pungently characterised account of Britten’s dazzling and nervy Temporal Variations (1936) this makes a very rewarding anthology. The recording is undistractingly natural.