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Recordings to celebrate the world of the oboe

An English Renaissance CC2009

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An English Renaissance CD cover
Similar repertoire: Though Lovers be Lost CD cover Rutland Boughton 'for Joyance' CD cover More George Caird: Britten Metamorphoses CD cover

(Click underlined movements to hear MP3 format sound clips.)

George Caird (oboe) with
Simon Blendis (violin), Louise Williams (viola), Jane Salmon (cello)
Alison Dods (violin 2 in Maconchy, Gow), David Adams (violin 2 in Bliss)

Recording Elizabeth Maconchy's Quintet, 1st March 2004
Elizabeth Maconchy Quintet for Oboe and Strings (1932)
Moderato - Poco sostenuto - Allegro non troppo

Arthur Bliss Quintet for Oboe and String Quartet (1926)
Assai sostenuto - Andante con moto - Vivace

Benjamin Britten Phantasy Quartet for Oboe and Strings (1933)
Andante alla marcia – Allegro giusto – Andante – Più agitato – Tempo primo

Dorothy Gow Oboe Quintet in one movement (1936)
Moderato – Andante tranquillo – Scherzando – Tempo primo

E J Moeran Fantasy Quartet (1946)
Allegro moderato – Tempo moderato – Andante – Lento – Tempo primo – Molto affrettando – Cadenza – Allegro con brio

Total CD Time: 75:14

The CD booklet contains a 2,500-word article by George Caird on the music in English, French and German.
There are more photos of the performers and the recording session.

This recording brings together five remarkable works for oboe and strings written between 1926 and 1946 and representing an English renaissance for the oboe as a chamber music instrument. It is a period which is musically very rich and diverse, with English composers showing new influences from Europe and America. The range and expression across these works is striking and is a tribute to the artistry of the oboist Léon Goossens, who is the dedicatee of three of the works and who taught the dedicatees of certainly one and possibly both of the other two. He was also the player behind two other important works by Bax and Finzi. These magnificent seven works, it can be argued, established a repertoire for oboe quartets and quintets and did much to promote the oboe as a chamber music instrument.

Goossens’ exquisite playing was characterised by a distinctive and sensitive sound, beautiful phrasing, a wide dynamic and tonal range and great rhythmic vitality. His collaboration with Sir Arnold Bax produced the first significant work for oboe and strings, the Quintet written in 1922 and recorded by Goossens with the International Quartet in 1924 (featured on Oboe Classics CC2005). Bax’s music, with its pastoral and elegiac qualities together with a strong Irish influence leant itself superbly to Goossens’ playing and this work must surely be partly responsible for the works on this recording. copyright George Caird 2004

photo of George Caird by Phil Hitchman
George Caird studied the oboe at the Royal Academy of Music with Janet Craxton and later with Helmut Winschermann and Neil Black. He has worked with many of London’s major orchestras including the BBC Symphony Orchestra and London Symphony Orchestra, and particularly as a member of the Academy of St Martin in the Fields from 1984 to 1991.

As a soloist, George has performed many of the major oboe concerti and given numerous recitals. He was a member of the Vega Wind Quintet from 1972 to 1984. He performed extensively with the George Caird Oboe Quartet in the 1980s and has played with the Allegri, Endellion, Lindsay, Alberni and Dante String Quartets.

He is a founder member of the Albion Ensemble, with whom he has recorded many CDs of Mozart’s wind chamber music. His interest in English music has produced a recording of Kenneth Leighton’s Veris Gratia for oboe, cello and orchestra with Raphael Wallfisch, Vernon Handley and the RLPO, as well as a CD of works by Paul Patterson, Andrew Downes, John Mayer and John Gardner (all dedicated to him) and performed with pianist Malcolm Wilson.

George has toured for the British Council in many countries including China, as well as performing in concerts and broadcasts in most European countries. He has been a juror on many important music competitions including the 1996 Munich International Oboe Competition, the BBC Young Musicians, and the Shell-LSO Competition. He was appointed professor of oboe at the Royal Academy of Music in 1984 where he became Head of Woodwind in 1987 and Head of Orchestral Studies in 1991. Since 1993, George has been Principal of Birmingham Conservatoire within the University of Central England. He was Chair of the Music Education Council from 2001 to 2004 and in 2004/5 was President of the Incorporated Society of Musicians.

photo by Jeremy Polmear of the Bliss Quintet recording, January 2004 Simon Blendis enjoys a varied career as a chamber musician, soloist and orchestral leader. He has been a member of the Schubert Ensemble since 1995, with whom he has performed in over 30 different countries, recorded fifteen CDs of music ranging from Mendelssohn to Korngold, and appeared regularly at Britain’s major venues as well as on BBC Radio 3.
As a soloist Simon has performed at several major Festivals, and has had pieces written for him by, amongst others, John Woolrich, Stuart Macrae and jazz legend Dave Brubeck. He regularly guest-leads orchestras such as the English Chamber Orchestra, London Sinfonietta and the Orchestra Ensemble Kanazawa in Japan, with whom he recently recorded Vivaldi’s Four Seasons for the Warner Japan label.

Louise Williams studied in London and New York, and began her career as a violinist, as a founder member of the Endellion Quartet. After a break she joined the Chilingirian quartet as violist. She then took another break to start a family, and since then she has given many concerts with the Lindsays, the Chilingirian, Coull, Endellion, Sorrel, Takacs, Vanbrugh and Vellinger Quartets and the Nash and Raphael Ensembles.
Louise’s recordings include the complete Bartok and Dvorak quartets and quintets with the Chilingirian Quartet, Mozart and Beethoven quintets with the Lindsays, Mendelssohn quintets with the Raphael Ensemble and a solo disc of Frank Bridge viola music, described in Gramophone magazine as “a joy to the ear”. She is now part of the Merel Quartet, based in Switzerland.

Jane Salmon has established a reputation as one of the busiest and most successful cellists of her generation. Her work as a chamber musician and as a recital soloist has involved her in recordings, broadcasts for radio and television, festivals and performances in many leading venues. Apart from major venues in North America and Europe, her travels have taken her as far afield as Nicaragua, Peru, India, Kathmandu and Borneo.
Jane’s work with the Schubert Ensemble of London and other leading London ensembles has covered both the major chamber repertoire and also new works, and she has recorded more than 30 CDs. She has also been a member of the Endymion Ensemble and Lontano. As a recitalist she has premièred solo works including Peter Sculthorpe, Anthony Payne, John Buller and Paul Patterson on BBC Radio 3 and in concerts on London’s South Bank and Wigmore Hall.

Alison Dods (Violin 2 in Maconchy, Gow) studied with Erich Gruenberg and David Takeno, and on a quartet scholarship from the Royal Academy of Music studied with the Tokyo Quartet in Yale University. She was a member of the physical theatre ensemble 'Gogmagogs' for six years, and for five years played with the Tippett Quartet, premiering many new works for string quartet. She performs with many diverse musicians such as Nitin Sawney, Nigel Kennedy and Errollyn Wallen.

David Adams (Violin 2 in Bliss) enjoys a varied career on both violin and viola. He is co-Artistic Director of the Goldberg Ensemble, Associate Leader of the City of London Sinfonia and Tutor in violin at the Royal Northern College of Music. He has performed as a guest artist with the Nash Ensemble, the Leopold String Trio, the Lindsays, the Sorrel String Quartet, the Gould Piano Trio and with Steven Isserlis. David has appeared as guest leader of the BBC Symphony Orchestra and the BBC National Orchestra of Wales.

Press Comment

"George Caird is a splendid soloist throughout, and the string group play with a remarkably integrated and raptly communicative ensemble style, consistently conveying their deep feeling for all this music. The recording is excellently balanced." Ivan March, Gramophone"

"Let me not beat about the bush. This is one of the most important British chamber music releases for a number of years... Firstly it presents three major English chamber classics of the 20th century. Secondly it introduces two works that deserve to be seen on the same level, and last but not least this is a beautifully produced and brilliantly played recital." John France, Classical Music Web [who chose this as his CD of the Year, 2006]

"This CD holds a feast of music for oboe and strings. The pieces are well programmed, the contrast of musical styles enabling one to enjoy listening to the whole CD at a sitting."Roger Lord, Double Reed News

"George Caird and his friends project the five works with a fresh quality which owes much to the quality of the recording ... the tone colours he coaxes from his Püchner oboe particularly suit the variety of moods in the eight sections of Moeran's Fantasy Quartet and the remarkably attractive Quintet by Dorothy Gow. This is much more than a CD for oboe addicts. The essence and quality of these pieces is exactly what the title promises. This is for music lovers of all kinds." Denby Richards, Musical Opinion

"All beautifully played by the oboist George Caird with some expert chamber-musician friends." Anthony Holden, The Observer

Listener Comment

"I went to the Adrian Boult Hall at lunchtime today [28th October 2007] to hear the première, as it were, of the re-launch of George Caird’s album. Now, I don’t usually care for 20th Century music much. Benjamin Britten gives me the creeps and the Second Viennese school usually bore me to tears, but I was entranced by the two marvels played today by George and his band. The 19-year-old Britten could write tunes, it seems – a total revelation. And Dorothy Gow produced an overwhelming torrent of fabulous harmony and intricate sound patterns that suddenly made complete sense of serial music. I am totally converted. Not to mention being utterly infatuated by the sweet huskiness of Jane Salmon’s cello. Let’s have a complete CD of Dorothy Gow revivals, please." John Wagstaff, Birmingham

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