JS Bach • CPE Bach • Britten

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COMPOSERS: Benjamin Britten,CPE Bach,Elliot Carter,JS Bach,Luciano Berio
LABELS: Harmonia Mundi
ALBUM TITLE: JS Bach • CPE Bach • Britten
WORKS: Partita in A minor, BWV 1013; Flute Sonata in A minor, Wq 132; Six Metamorphoses after Ovid, Op. 49; Sequenza VII; Inner Song
PERFORMER: Céline Moinet (oboe)


Berlioz, who knew a thing or two about orchestration, appreciated the oboe’s rustic tenderness and ‘timidity’. He obviously hadn’t anticipated Berio’s Sequenza VII which, alongside an ‘occasional’ piece by Elliott Carter also written for oboist Heinz Holliger, forms the modernist core of an artfully constructed programmed framed by JS and CPE Bach.

Céline Moinet, who is principal oboe with the Dresden Staatskapelle, meets Berio’s hair-raising demands and is positively swept along by the sheer gutsiness of Sequenza VII’s trajectory. It’s an exhilarating performance – edgy, audacious, fired up with virtuosic bravado – and the multiphonics are breathtaking. At the heart of the disc, Britten’s whimsically soliloquising Metamorphoses allow Moinet’s lyrical side to blossom – from the senza misura (without metre) fluidity of ‘Pan’ and the stoical grief of ‘Niobe’, to the self-regarding suppleness of ‘Narcissus’ and the affecting eloquence of ‘Arethusa’.

Less convincing, perhaps, is the oboe respray of JS Bach’s solo flute Partita, where Moinet’s expressive fussiness restricts the music’s flow, losing the sense of dance. Much more convincing is CPE’s Sonata transcribed for flute, the original composed in the same year as JS Bach’s The Musical Offering. Following the Carter, its opening sounds curiously modern.


Paul Riley