British Oboe Quintets
Works by Delius, Bax, Bliss, Finzi and Vaughan Williams
Nicholas Daniel (oboe/cor anglais); Doric String Quartet
Chandos CHAN 20226 67:31 mins
Most of the pieces in this attractive programme were written for Leon Goossens, whose Lorée oboe Nicholas Daniel plays in the final work (rather confusingly titled here ‘Two Interludes’, it’s in fact the Intermezzo arranged by Eric Fenby from Delius’s opera Fennimore and Gerda). Daniel describes in the booklet how by playing Goossens’s instrument he discovered a more flowing and lighter tone, prompting him to purchase his own Lorée.
Daniel’s characteristically darker tone remains evident – perhaps appropriately – in the opening Bax Quintet, backed by the Doric Quartet’s quasi-orchestral support. The slightly impersonal character of the Dorics’ ensemble playing is accentuated by their minimal use of vibrato, producing a glassy tone perhaps developed through playing very early 19th-century repertoire.
They again take a quasi-symphonic approach to Bliss’s Quintet, though a more intimate approach (as taken by the Nash Ensemble on Hyperion, or the Tale Quartet on BIS) might have been more effective. The unresolved final chords of the second and final movements don’t really tell as perhaps they ideally should, overshadowed as they are by the preceding eventful accounts.
The Dorics’ playing appears warmer for both the Finzi and the Vaughan Williams works. The latter – originally written for cello and piano – sounds well enough in an arrangement for cor anglais and string quartet, though in the first piece, where there was originally a spare but resonant piano part, we now have strings which rather disconcertingly drop out. But then, arguably, Daniel’s immaculate playing is the main attraction here, as throughout.