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Thea Musgrave: Chamber Works for Oboe / Nicholas Daniel, oboe; Emer McDonough, flute; James Turnbull, oboe; Joy Farrall, clarinet; Huw Watkins, piano

Album Summary

>Musgrave, Thea : Night Windows, for oboe & piano
>Musgrave, Thea : Impromptu no 1 for Flute and Oboe
>Musgrave, Thea : Impromptu no 2, for flute, oboe & clarinet
>Musgrave, Thea : Cantilena, for oboe, violin, viola & cello
>Musgrave, Thea : Niobe, for oboe & electronics
>Musgrave, Thea : Trio for flute, oboe & piano
>Musgrave, Thea : Take Two Oboes
>Musgrave, Thea : Threnody, for clarinet & piano
Performers Ensemble Composer

Notes & Reviews:

Rich and powerful musical language and a strong sense of drama have made Scottish-American composer Thea Musgrave (b.1928) one of the most respected and exciting contemporary voices. This recording by star oboist Nicholas Daniel features a collection of Musgrave's chamber works for oboe composed between 1960 and 2009 and includes several works written especially for Daniel. Joined by flutist Emer McDonough, oboist James Turnbull, clarinetist Joy Farall, pianist Huw Watkins and members of the Chilingirian Quartet, Daniel plays eight works in a variety of combinations ranging from duos to quartets.

MusicWeb International, April 2013
Nicholas Daniel is in tremendous form and Huw Watkins is a sensitive and deeply committed accompanist. The other members of the team on this disc are also superb.

Gramophone Magazine, June 2013
The pacing and control of materials is always most assured and makes for a contemporary recital that is both varied and approachable.

BBC Music Magazine, August 2013
With its sure-footed gestural pacing, Thea Musgrave's elegantly taut music is thoroughly absorbing and Nicholas Daniel's seemingly effortless musicality is always a pleasure to encounter.

American Record Guide, July/August 2013
In her music, Thea Musgrave is a poet, dramatist, and choreographer. The subject of her pieces often reveals the importance she places on the union between drama and music. Night Windows is named after an Edward Hopper painting where one observes a scene through a lighted window. The oboe is a perfect instrument for such dramatic expression. Mr Daniel and Huw Watkins perform with a unified sense of nuance. The Cantilena strikes me as a novel translation of another somewhat emotional sensation. It was commissioned to dedicate the London Chamber Music Society's new hall and gradually integrates the oboe into the string trio texture, physically and musically. This piece, like a short story, invites the listener to relate to the oboe and gradually become a part of the group as the soloist and trio become intertwined. Written for oboe and tape, Niobe is full of wonderful ethereal sounds, chimes, and bubbly water-like. Mr Daniel paints a portrait of grief and loss in a superb interpretation. Take Two Oboes is a charming piece whose inspiration comes from a pedagogical interest in giving oboists something enjoyable to play while strengthening the instrument's particular technical challenges. There are delightful moments when one oboe hands off to the other seamlessly. The work's brilliance is magnified by the dazzling uniformity in timbre of these two performers. More to the point, Nicholas Daniel's playing is articulate and resonant. Thea Musgrave mentions in her liner notes that what attracted her to him in the first place was his musical and theatrical nature. Her music requires depth of personality, intellect, compassion, and sensitivity. And with a stellar technique, Mr Daniel plays the part with conviction. This is a fantastic set of pieces and great performances.

Notes & Reviews:

Recording information: Champs Hill Music Room, Pulborough, West Sussex, UK (10/2011).



Reviews

Intimate composer portrait
Oboist Nicholas Daniel is uniquely qualified to present this program (which is probably why he did so). Daniel commissioned a concerto from Thea Musgrave, and the working relationship they established gives Daniel special insight into Musgrave's music. This recording brings together Musgrave's compositions for the oboe in chamber settings, and represent over fifty years of compositional development.

The earliest work is the Trio for flute, oboe and piano (1960). To my ears it sounds academically atonal, as was the fashion then. And yet, it's not at all harsh or unmusical. The inherent lyricism of Musgrave might be buried, but it's lying very close to the surface.

The featured piece, Night Windows for oboe and piano, is more recent, dating from 2007. Based on a Edward Hopper painting of the same name (which appears on the cover), Night Windows is a series of musical sketches, each one delineating a different emotion: loneliness anger nostalgia despair and frenzy. The sparse piano part coupled with the single-line of the oboe present these emotions in a simple and straight-forward manner. Here Musgrave's melodic gifts are to the fore, making this work quite effective and appealing.

There are some shorter and lighter works on the album, such as the two impromptus and Take Two Oboes, which is just some good natured fun.

For me, works for live performer and tape don't age well, but Musgrave's Niobe is an exception. Although composed in 1987 for oboe and tape, its atmospheric and ethereal sounds have a timeless aspect.

The Threnody for cor anglais and piano makes a fitting close to the program. The cor anglais has a warmer and darker sound than the oboe, an the change in timber from the previous oboe pieces almost serves as a coda. The work was commissioned to make the passing of a beloved teacher, Musgrave effectively conveys deep sorrow and a sense of loss without sounding maudlin or trite.

Daniel plays with a clean, clear tone and is in complete command of this material. He has the ability to be warm and expressive, and to play aggressively and with great agility as the music demands. An unusual but very compelling portrait of a modern master.
Submitted on 11/13/13 by RGraves321 
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Works Details

>Musgrave, Thea : Night Windows, for oboe & piano
  • Performers: Huw Watkins (Piano); Nicholas Daniel (Oboe)
  • Ensemble: Chilingirian String Quartet
  • Running Time: 14 min. 4 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Written: 2007

>Musgrave, Thea : Impromptu no 1 for Flute and Oboe
  • Performers: Emer McDonough (Flute); Nicholas Daniel (Oboe)
  • Running Time: 4 min. 49 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Written: 1967

>Musgrave, Thea : Impromptu no 2, for flute, oboe & clarinet
  • Performers: Joy Farrall (Clarinet); Nicholas Daniel (Oboe); Emer McDonough (Flute)
  • Running Time: 10 min. 7 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Written: 1970

>Musgrave, Thea : Cantilena, for oboe, violin, viola & cello
  • Performers: Susie Meszaros (Viola); Nicholas Daniel (Oboe); Philip De Groote (Cello); Levon Chilingirian (Violin)
  • Running Time: 10 min. 59 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Form: Chamber Music
  • Written: 2008

>Musgrave, Thea : Niobe, for oboe & electronics
  • Performer: Nicholas Daniel (Oboe)
  • Running Time: 6 min. 48 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern

>Musgrave, Thea : Trio for flute, oboe & piano
  • Performers: Emer McDonough (Flute); Huw Watkins (Piano); Nicholas Daniel (Oboe)
  • Running Time: 9 min. 43 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Form: Chamber Music
  • Written: 1960

>Musgrave, Thea : Take Two Oboes
  • Performers: James Turnbull (Oboe); Nicholas Daniel (Oboe)
  • Running Time: 7 min. 12 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Written: 2008

>Musgrave, Thea : Threnody, for clarinet & piano
  • Performer: Huw Watkins (Piano)
  • Running Time: 7 min. 26 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Written: 1996