Hurd, Leighton, Blezard, Gardner & Lane

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Blezard,Gardner & Lane,Hurd,Leighton
LABELS: ASV White Line
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: English Oboe Concertos
WORKS: Works
PERFORMER: Jill Crowther (oboe); English Northern Philharmonia/Alan Cuckston
The most substantial work here is Kenneth Leighton’s Concerto for oboe and strings, composed in 1953 but unaccountably left unperformed until long after Leighton’s death in 1988. Its serious, moderately paced opening movement and deeply felt slow movement set up tensions which the cheerful finale does not fully resolve. John Gardner’s 1990 Concerto, also with strings, is neatly made, with an unexpectedly subdued ending; Michael Hurd’s 1979 Concerto da camera includes some frisky interplay between the soloist and orchestral woodwind in the manner of Françaix. The Two Celtic Pieces by William Blezard (once accompanist to Joyce Grenfell and Marlene Dietrich) and Philip Lane’s Three Spanish Dances have the tuneful charm associated with the genre of light music, which is the raison d’être of ASV’s White Line series. Jill Crowther’s playing is unfailingly nimble and well focused, perhaps just a little lacking in variety of attack and colour. The orchestral contribution is sabotaged by a swimmy acoustic which leaves solo strings sounding remote but the overall sound-picture congested (especially in the pieces with a wind section). Overall, though, this is a disc which, without hitting the heights of musical expression, will give much uncomplicated pleasure. Anthony Burton