Oboe concerto No. 1, op. 81 : for oboe, strings and timpani
by Richard Peter Maddox (2003)
From the CD Works for oboe
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Library shelf no. CD 1750 [Available for loan]
Score & Part
Library shelf no. 784.72852/MAD 1 [Not for loan]
When I first discussed with my brother Graham the possibility of
writing him an oboe concerto, he made two stipulations: first,
the work should be for oboe and strings, and second, it should be
"lyrical" (he has had plenty of experience with pieces I have
written for him in the past!) I accepted these stipulations,
except that I insisted on including timpani in the orchestra. As
the work revealed itself to me, I came to realise how important
that inclusion was to be. The first movement opens with a rumble
on said timpani, followed by an announcement of the essence of
the first theme, given by the oboe, after which the strings take
up the fanfare-like theme and alternate with the oboe. The second
theme is quieter, and leads to a third, more melancholic idea.
These three elements build the whole movement.
In the second movement the timpani begin to make their presence felt, with an ostinato vaguely reminiscent of Ravel's Bolero. Whereas that piece has been described as an exercise in boredom, I have aimed here at something hypnotic, with pizzicato strings accompanying a quasi-oriental theme in the solo part. This theme is taken up by the first violins, who from time to time echo the oboe's closing figure. The middle section of the movement has the strings playing with bows, and omits the timpani. After a brief cadenza for the solo, the opening idea is repeated, with the timpani becoming more insistent, until the music dies away.
After such a somnolent movement, a scurrying Scherzo is needed to wake the audience and the orchestra up again. The helter-skelter opening is punctuated by off-beat timpani strokes, until a dancing theme in the major mode is introduced by the strings. The solo tries to lead the orchestra astray into remote key-areas, but the strings keep returning firmly to the A major tonality, until they decide enough is enough, and return to repeat the opening section. In the last movement the oboe opens by winding up the spring that is released with the beginning of a genial dance. This time the orchestra follows the solo into some uncharted key areas, until the timpani decide to take charge of proceedings. A slower, weaving dance section, again with a somewhat oriental feel, is introduced by the timpani rhythm. This dance builds to a climax when the timpani, acting as traffic director, break into a short solo and invite the oboe to join in. Gradually the other instruments join as well, and then the timpani signal that the time has come for the soloist's cadenza. When this reaches the conventional ending trill, the orchestra return to the opening theme, leading finally to a wild dash for the exit.
Instrumentation: Solo oboe, timpani, strings.
Duration: 19 min.
Difficulty: Advanced — AMEB Grade 8
- In the form/style of: Concertos
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