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Down a River of Time
Georg Philip TELEMANN (1681-1767)
Concerto in D minor [9:44]
François-Joseph GARNIER (1755-1825)
Concerto for oboe and strings [8:11]
Giuseppe FERLENDIS (1755-1810)
Concerto No.1 in F major (published 1802) [13:31]
Ermanno WOLF-FERRARI (1876-1948)
Idillio-Concertino (1932) [19:36]
Eric EWAZEN (b.1954)
Down a River of Time (1999) [24:57]
Andrea Gullickson (oboe)
Czech Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra/Lucia Matos
rec. Czech Radio Studio One, Prague, July 2005
CALA CACD1037 [76:39]
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The subtitle tells all – Oboe Concertos from the Baroque to the Present. One of the former, two from the late eighteenth century, one of the latter and something near to our time but not quite of it, Wolf-Ferrari’s exquisitely songful little 1932 Idillio-Concertino.
But let’s start with the Big Beast of the Baroque. Telemann’s concerto has moments of sheer transparent bliss; gauzy lissom supportive strings with the oboe’s aria sung above them. Or there’s his pregnant sliver of a second adagio that acts more as theatrical tension for the easy command of the finale. He’s joined by the later Parisian elegance of Garnier whose concerto more resembles a charming suite. In five very brief movements it parades its ease of utterance and plenty of winning melody; hardly a really distinctive work it appears in reconstruction.
Giuseppe Ferlendis was born in 1755 – a booklet misprint gives 1785. Mozart wrote his oboe concerto for Ferlendis and he must have been an agile player with powerful breath control and a penchant for the melodic line. His own concerto, thought for some time to be actually by Mozart, is an elegant charmer in its own right. Deftly and lightly scored it wears its lyrical attractions lightly but persuasively. It’s also certainly not stinting in terms of harmonic interest. The slow movement is brief but quite powerful whilst the finale is here taken at an amiable un-pressing tempo and sounds all the more jovial as a result.
My brief comments above on the Idillio-Concertino need to be expanded only slightly. This is a recitative and aria-rich twenty-minutes worth of grace. Quasi-operatic – or certainly quasi-vocalised – the oboe sings warmly and avidly. Melodies are delicious, and are spun, slow to an expressive crawl, and resume.  There’s rich verismo passion here; a gorgeous work that ends with a sprightly finale and a feel of quiet solicitude.
Finally there is another splendid work, the one that gives its name to the disc’s title. Down a River of Time was written in 1999 as a memorial tribute. Its three movements bear the titles, successively, Past hopes and dreams, and sorrows, and memories of tomorrow. Written in a warmly accessible style its curvaceous lyricism is optimistic and alive. The wistful central movement is a pastoral reflection, slightly filmic maybe, with touches of VW modality. The fresh air finale finds the soloist carving curlicues of avian delight as the river flows wide and generous; flecks of the baroque, maybe also Copland accompany her.
The highly accomplished Andrea Gullickson proves a lyrically and tonally attractive guide. Her breath control sounds splendid and she weaves her patterns over contemporary and baroque with equal pleasure. The Czech Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra, a modern instrument group, is directed by Lucia Matos and furnishes fine support, fully alive to stylistic differences, and they are attractively recorded as well.
Jonathan Woolf


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