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When There Are No Words

Alex Klein (oboe), Phillip Bush (piano) (Cedille)

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

When There Are No Words
Works by Bolcom, Britten, Haas, Hindemith, Siqueira and Slavick´y
Alex Klein (oboe), Phillip Bush (piano)
Cedille CDR 90000 208   75:51 mins


The booklet notes for this release go to inordinate lengths to link these works to a common theme of existential stress: the Hindemith and Britten reflecting the menace of the 1930s, fulfilled in the fate of Pavel Haas, a gifted Janáček pupil murdered all too young at Auschwitz; the Bolcom composed in 1980 after a discussion of the likelihood of nuclear war; the Sequeira and Slavický by composers whose lives culminated in exile and political suppression respectively.

Hindemith’s two-movement Sonata is in fact typical of his middle-period style: energetic, no-nonsense with a touch of personal melancholy. Britten’s Temporal Variations, equally typically, draw the most striking contrasts from the barest material, while Haas rhapsodises in an idiom freely mixing chromaticism and modality. And if the fine-spun Bolcom Aubade is unusually austere for a composer more often beholden to popular sources, the Siqueira Etudes charmingly evoke his Brazilian background while the Slavický Suite proves highly inventive in a style somewhere between Poulenc and Shostakovich.

Though 75 minutes of busy, closely-recorded oboe and piano texture may seem a lot for one sitting, they are delivered with dexterity and conviction in beautifully rounded tone without acidity by Alex Klein, sometime principal oboe of the Chicago Symphony, with Phillip Bush a vigorous and resourceful accompanist.

Bayan Northcott

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