Bach, Handel, Telemann & Vivaldi

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Bach,Handel,Telemann & Vivaldi
LABELS: Nimbus
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Baroque Oboe Sonatas
WORKS: Works
PERFORMER: Ray Still (oboe), Leonard Sharrow (bassoon), Thomas R Still, Robert Conant (harpsichord)
Ray Still is the doyen of American wind players, principal oboist in the Chicago Symphony for 40 years under Reiner, Martinon, Solti and Barenboim, and still playing and teaching in his eighties. This disc of previously unreleased material begins with a 1986 recording of Bach’s G minor Sonata, now thought to be an authentic version of the B minor Flute Sonata, with Still’s son Thomas playing the obbligato harpsichord part skilfully on a rather clangorous instrument. The rest of the disc is from a 1974 session devoted to two Handel sonatas, three delightful miniature suites by Telemann, and one of the anonymous Pastor fido sonatas published in Paris as works by Vivaldi; here, the former Chicago SO bassoonist Leonard Sharrow provides a characterful bass line, albeit given too much prominence compared to Robert Conant’s discreet harpsichord continuo. Still’s own playing shows his background as an orchestral player, required to project from the middle distance on mostly unraked American platforms, in its consistently bright tone and sharp-edged attacks. But his precision of tuning and tonguing, his evenness of colour across the registers, and his imaginative shaping of phrases, all show the touch of a master of his instrument. Anthony Burton