WORKS: Oboe Sonatas, Op. 71/1 & 2
PERFORMER: Mark Weiger (oboe), Arthur Rowe (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: CD 722
To most of us, the names of the two composers represented on this disc will be unfamiliar. But the fact that the French scholar and music historian François-Joseph Fétis wrote that ‘these works of Widerkehr and those of Devienne were for many years the best of that genre known in France’ encouraged American oboist Mark Weiger to investigate these ‘Grand Sonatas’ more fully, and to record them for the first time.
François Devienne (1759-1803) was a successful composer and flute teacher, the first to hold a professorship in that instrument at the Paris Conservatoire at its foundation in 1795. As Weiger explains, Devienne’s tuneful and attractive oboe sonatas ‘remain a challenge with regard to technique and endurance even on today’s lavishly keyed oboe’. Weiger’s accounts of Devienne’s Sonatas in G and D minor are adroit and intelligent. He has fine breath control, and phrases the music beautifully, though some may find his sound a little acidic.
Jacques Widerkehr (1759-1823), a cellist with the famous Concert Spirituel in Paris, composed widely for wind instruments; these Duo Sonatas date from 1817, and were among his last published compositions. Weiger and his accompanist Arthur Rowe turn in strongly argued and purposeful accounts. Recorded sound is truthful and well balanced throughout. Michael Jameson