Strauss: Oboe Concerto; Sonatina No. 2 in E flat for 16 wind instruments

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COMPOSERS: Strauss
LABELS: Chandos
WORKS: Oboe Concerto; Sonatina No. 2 in E flat for 16 wind instruments
PERFORMER: Nicholas Daniel (oboe)Haffner Wind Ensemble of London, City of London Sinfonia/Richard Hickox
CATALOGUE NO: CHAN 9286 DDD
Confounding one cliché with another, you could say that Strauss’s late concertos and wind-band pieces signify a second spring, not the Indian summer of popular Straussian mythology. Nicholas Daniel’s arching, caressing way with the Oboe Concerto returns it to the realms of a kindly autumn. In what must be the longest second movement on disc – it becomes an adagio rather than the composer’s suggested andante – he phrases the long, bel canto lines with singerly intensity; and Strauss’s afterthoughts to the finale are taken at wistful leisure.

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Daniel carries it off – just – by steering stylishly between the femininity of several fellow-interpreters and the muscled strength of the great Maurice Bourgue (unsurpassable, I think, in this music). What we miss in terms of rococo graciousness from Hickox’s City of London Sinfonia we gain in the character of the instrumental soloists – though balances are unusually forward for Chandos. The Second Wind Sonatina of 1945, despite its extraordinary length, is a mere bagatelle. There’s just a dash of late Romantic melancholy, but Mozart wins over Wagner as the outer movements burble with prolix cheerfulness to their natural conclusions. The playing of Daniel’s Haffner Wind Ensemble is smooth and sunny; nothing more is required. David Nice