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COMPOSERS: Britten/Mozart
LABELS: Philips
WORKS: Six Metamorphoses after Ovid; Temporal Variations; Phantasy; Two Insect Pieces; Oboe Quartet in F, K370
PERFORMER: Heinz Holliger (oboe), András Schiff (piano), Thomas Zehetmair (violin), Tabea Zimmermann (viola), Thomas Demenga (cello)
This disc finds Heinz Holliger at the top of his form. In Britten’s Phantasy Quartet, a single-movement work designed to contain the expressive range of the traditional four movements, Holliger leads his talented colleagues with a subtlety of which the work’s dedicatee, Leon Goossens, would have been proud.


The charming and witty Insect Pieces and the more substantial Temporal Variations bear witness to Britten’s keen understanding of the oboe, and in the latter piece Holliger achieves an eloquent balance of sentiment and satire. But finer still are the Metamorphoses after Ovid, six movements for oboe solo which characterise various of the classical gods. Holliger clearly revels in the music’s technical demands.


Mozart’s Oboe Quartet was composed in 1781 for Friedrich Ramm, a member of the famous Mannheim orchestra who performed at the Munich premiere of the opera Idomeneo. Talented performers always inspired Mozart to give of his best, and this piece is no exception, for it has both emotional sensitivity and abundant vitality, strengths which are heard to excellent effect in this performance. Terry Barfoot