Maderna: Oboe Concerto No. 1; Oboe Concerto No. 2; Oboe Concerto No. 3

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LABELS: Philips
WORKS: Oboe Concerto No. 1; Oboe Concerto No. 2; Oboe Concerto No. 3
PERFORMER: Heinz Holliger (oboe)Cologne RSO/Gary Bertini
When Bruno Maderna died in 1973 at the age of 53, he occupied a much respected position in the hierarchy of the postwar avant-garde. As a conductor he had been responsible for the premieres of many important scores, while as a composer and teacher his influence stretched far and wide. Throughout his career Maderna never lost his sense of adventure or abandoned his willingness to explore new avenues, and though his music was always positioned unambiguously in the world of avant-garde serialism and its latter-day elaborations, it never forsook its Italian roots; even when most intricate and abstruse, Maderna’s works always sing and reveal their lyrical core.


In the last decade of his life the oboe became an ever more important instrument to Maderna. It seemed to epitomise for him the lyrical essence for which his music was striving, and over that period he wrote all three of the concertos that Heinz Holliger plays so supremely well here; the Third Concerto was the very last work he wrote.


Each of them is a free-wheeling mixture of precisely notated music and looser material through which the performers – the orchestra as much as the soloist – have to plot their own course. In the first two concertos the soloist has to call upon an assortment of oboes of differing sizes. In the Third he uses the standard instrument only. All of them, though, are beautifully written, effortlessly expressive works with the solo line always to the fore, and Holliger realises their beauties most elegantly. Andrew Clements