oboe by Howarth www.howarth.uk.com
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Recordings to celebrate the world of the oboe


(click what you want to see)
Balkan Bolero CD cover
Other CDs by a single composer: Rutland Boughton CD cover The oboe in Mozart CD cover Tres Francaix CD cover

(click underlined movements to hear MP3 format sound clips)

photo of Borislav Cicovacki Dance of the Wooden Sticks
for cor anglais, oboe sopile and string orchestra

Leonce and Lena
for soprano, flute, oboe, viola, double bass, piano and percussion
Ouverture - The King - Travelling - My Tired Footsteps

Sarabande for cor anglais, violin and piano

Girotondo, for oboe, piano, double bass and percussion

The Miracle in Shargan – 1, oboe and violin version

Simon and Anne, for cor anglais and piano
Hymn - Psalm - Réjouissance

Three Goat's Ears, for oboe, violin and string orchestra
Slaves - Intermezzo. Morning - Felicya - Bacchanal

The Miracle in Shargan – 2, oboe and piano version

New Songs of Lada without Words
for oboe, cor anglais, oboe d'amore and string orchestra
Cradle Song - Intermezzo No. 1 - Downtown, in Novi Sad... -
Intermezzo No. 2 - All the Yawl Men... - Oh, Die, My Love...

The Mousetrap, for cor anglais, violin and piano
Three Blind Mice - Epilogue

Two Songs of Bride of the Wind
for cor anglais, accordion and double bass
Bride's Song 1 - Bride's Song 2

Total time 65:30

There are also YouTube videos of A Cradle Song and Bacchanal.

The 20-page booklet is in in full colour, with details on the music, the performers and many photographs.

Extracts from the CD booklet by Borislav Čičovački:

The musical style of Isidora Žebeljan
Isidora Zebeljan Although born in Belgrade, Isidora Žebeljan spent much time as a child in the region of Banat, visiting her grandparents in their village. In that part of the Pannonian Plain, between the Tisa river and the Carpathian mountains, Bartók and Kurtág were born, and Ligeti was born not far away. It was in this area, nowadays divided among Serbia, Romania and Hungary, that Isidora Žebeljan grew up listening to Serbian, Romanian, Hungarian and Gypsy music. This music, with its melancholic and passionate melodies, rich with ornaments, its rhythms complex and elusive, sparked Isidora Žebeljan's original and ongoing enthusiasm for sound, and defined the basic outlines.

Nevertheless, the folk music tradition is just a starting point from which she creates her own world of music. This world also includes the experiences of popular music and jazz such as be-bop, and in this way her music becomes a universal form of emotional expression for the contemporary human being. It is, in the words of a critic in the London Times: "...a belter from the Balkans – wild, dance-like and off-kilter."

Concert Music, Theatre Music
The compositions in this CD – concert, solo and chamber pieces – include all the works that Isidora Žebeljan has written for the oboe and similar instruments. They are divided into two groups based on their origin, which are represented equally on this CD: one group includes compositions written for the concert stage, while the other group comprises arrangements of pieces from her various incidental music. In this new form, extracted from the emotional frame of the plot, these miniatures represent little jewels of chamber music with oboe.

Writing for oboe and cor anglais
What Isidora Žebeljan did, when starting to compose for oboe and cor anglais, was to try to research and exploit the possibilities of these instruments by constantly attempting to expand them and take them outside their established sound idiom. She particularly wanted to achieve an expansion of various sound colours of the instruments, to comply with the demands of the character of the music itself. It is, then, the character of the sound in a given context, rather than its generalised beauty, which is the subject of the composer's research into sound. Hence the use of virtuoso passages in a high register (Girotondo, Morning, Bacchanal), or of robust sound (Girotondo, Hymn), or imitation of the sound of medieval or folk instruments (Overture, the beginning of Bacchanal) or achieving discreet dynamics, often in a low register and using a mute (Sarabande, Felicya). These are some ways which enable the sound of the instrument to move beyond its stereotype and to change its character and colour, depending on the emotional content of the music. Isidora Žebeljan found her model for this kind of approach to instruments in the art work of Maria Callas, who changed the colour of her voice depending on the role she was singing. In that sense, there is not much difference as to whether Isidora originally composed her pieces for oboe (as in Leonce and Lena, The Miracle in Shargan, Three Goat's Ears) or they were created as new versions of already existing compositions.

The Performers:

Polymath Borislav Čičovački started playing the oboe at the age of nine. He studied oboe and biology simultaneously at the University of Novi Sad. From 1991 to 1993 he was a student of Han de Vries at the Amsterdam Conservatory, and continued to live in the Netherlands, performing as a chamber musician and a soloist, playing mostly contemporary music.

He has performed at the premières of about 60 chamber and solo compositions by Serbian, Dutch and German composers, 40 of which were written for him. He has performed as a soloist with the Belgrade Philharmonic and Zagreb Philharmonic, and as a chamber musician he has had concerts around Europe, performing at festivals in Sweden, France and Germany.

His first novel was published in Amsterdam in 2000 and he has now had eight novels and short story collections published there. After nearly 10 years in the Netherlands he returned to Serbia, and met Isidora Žebeljan who soon became his wife. The couple's partnership isn't restricted to their private life, nor is it – as this CD may suggest – solely a composer-musician relationship, professionally speaking; on his own, or as a co-author, Borislav Čičovački has written librettos for four of Isidora Žebeljan's operas, which have been staged in Amsterdam, Vienna, Bregenz, Siena, Mülheim, Zagreb, Rijeka and Belgrade.

Apart from this, Borislav Čičovački is also actively involved in musicology, dealing primarily with Serbian music of the 20th century. He writes articles for Serbian, Dutch and German magazines and texts for CD booklets, and gives lectures. He is a professor of chamber music at the Faculty of Art and Philology of Kragujevac University (Serbia).

All the compositions in this CD were written for him and he premièred them.              Milica Žebeljan

The Zebaljan Orchestra in rehearsal Isidora Žebeljan is Serbia's foremost composer, and her details can be found on Wikipedia. She has attracted round her a core of exceptional players to perform her chamber music:

Aleksandar Madžar, piano (track 6); Miloš Veljković, piano (tracks 9-11) Aneta Ilić, soprano (tracks 2, 4, 5) Julija Hartig, violin (tracks 6, 8, 12-15) Mirjana Nešković, violin (tracks 23-24) Nataša Petrović, viola (tracks 2-5) Boban Stošić, double bass (tracks 2-5, 7, 25) Aleksandar Stefanović, accordion (tracks 25-26) Miroslav Karlović, percussion (track 7) Neda Arsenijević, flute (track 2) With the Žebeljan Orchestra conducted by Premil Petrović (tracks 1, 12-15, 17-22). Isidora Žebeljan herself plays piano on tracks 2-4, 7, 16, 23-24, and percussion on track 2.

rehearsing <i>Bride's Song 1<i>

Press Comment
"This is an amazingly surprising and rewarding disc that never fails to thrill and excite. It showcases the tonal colours of the cor anglais and oboe as well as the fantastic abilities of soloist Borislav Čičovački. That said, every player deserves recognition for this thoroughly committed playing.

"This disc has been a revelation to me and I cannot wait to explore further the music of this endlessly talented composer. Žebeljan deserves greater exposure; what a wonderful thing it would be to see that some of her music has found its way onto a programme of the BBC Proms; audiences would love it."
Steve Arloff, MusicWeb International

"Oboe Classics is lucky to have landed so big a fish as Isidora Žebeljan! ... I can honestly say that listening to and getting to know this magical music... is a must"
Han de Vries, Double Reed News (UK). You can read the whole review here.

"...a belter from the Balkans – wild, dance-like and off-kilter." The London Times, on Isidora Žebeljan's music

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