C & R Schumann, Dring, etc

Our rating 
2.0 out of 5 star rating 2.0

COMPOSERS: C & R Schumann,Dring,etc
LABELS: Crystal
ALBUM TITLE: The Poetic Oboe
WORKS: Works by C & R Schumann, Dring,
PERFORMER: Andrea Gullickson (oboe), Karen Enns (piano)
Like several other recent oboe-and-piano discs, this American release pairs Robert Schumann’s Three Romances with three more by his wife Clara, originally for violin, which are equally fluent and tuneful. But, rather than add further Schumann transcriptions, it explores some rare 20th-century repertoire from Britain and France: Madeleine Dring’s Three Piece Suite, more substantial than the facetious title suggests; and André Jolivet’s challenging four-movement Serenade (which also exists in a version for wind quintet with the oboe as soloist). There’s even one 21st-century piece, specially written for Andrea Gullickson by her fellow-American Andrea Clearfield: called Unremembered Wings, after a phrase in a Neruda poem, it’s a well-constructed 11-minute rhapsody. Gullickson is a technically assured oboist, except for some lapses of intonation in the upper register, and her sound, somewhat reedier than the American norm, is attractive in small doses. But she shows little variety of dynamics, colour or attack, and despite the disc’s title her phrasing seems all too prosaic. Karen Enns is a fluent pianist, but also lacking in variety of tone and attack. Some of these perceived deficiencies may be due to the constricted, airless recording. Either way, this is a disappointing representation of a potentially interesting programme. Anthony Burton