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

OBOE+ CC2015

(click what you want to see)
oboe+ CD cover
Other Contemporary music CDs: Orpheus Elegies CD cover Antares CD cover New Ground CD cover

(Click underlined pieces to hear MP3 format sound clips.) Christopher Redgate at the recording session, 13/07/06
Christopher Redgate: '...sting of the bee...' (improvisation, 2006)
(solo oboe)
Christopher Redgate

Roger Redgate: Ausgangspunkte (1982)
(solo oboe)
Christopher Redgate

Michael Young: Argrophylax (2004)
(oboe and interactive computer)
Christopher Redgate, Michael Young

Michael Finnissy: Pavasiya (1981)
(solo oboe)
Christopher Redgate

Sam Hayden: Recoil (2001)
(oboe and percussion)
Christopher Redgate, Julian Warburton

Luciano Berio: Sequenza VII (1969)
(oboe and drone)
Christopher Redgate, Roger Redgate (violin)

Total Time 68:45

The 24-page CD booklet has a 6,000 word programme note in English, with a description of the works, the performers, and many photographs.

'Oboe+' brings together a group of works for oboe that, with the exception of Berio’s Sequenza VII, have not been recorded before. Sequenza VII was written at the end of the 1960s, a time that had seen a great deal of experimentation with composers exploring the wide range of new sounds available. The Sequenza is an exceptional work that brings together many of the sounds and techniques of the period and integrates them into a work of extraordinary beauty and power. Alongside the development of new sounds and extended techniques came music that demanded from the performer a great deal technically, musically and emotionally. The other works recorded here are fine examples of music from this genre.

The ‘new sounds’ can be divided into different categories:

Firstly there are the sounds that are easy to make on the instrument. The only example on this CD is the use of key-clicks - this is simply produced by tapping the keys of the instrument hard enough to make a noise. An obvious example of this on the CD can be heard in Argrophylax at 5:10 or 16:18. In the second example the sound is also amplified.

Secondly, there are the new sounds that are an extension of techniques that already exist: double, triple and flutter tonguing, range extension and quarter tones. A combination of double and triple tonguing can be heard in Argrophylax at 9:20, while flutter tonguing can be heard in Ausgangspunkte at 2:9. The extension of the range can be heard in Ausgangspunkte at 6:20. Quarter tones are used extensively in many of the works, but a particularly fine example can be found in Pavasiya at 4:17. Sequenza VII uses a few microtonal trills an example of which can be heard at 1:14.

Thirdly, sounds that take the oboe into new territory: multiphonics. The performer, through a careful use of exotic fingerings and careful control of the embouchure, creates several pitches simultaneously.

Every work on the CD uses these sounds often in combination with other techniques. Recoil uses multiphonics extensively from the opening bar while in Sequenza VII the multiphonics are almost ‘ghost like’ at 6:50. You can also find examples of trilling between different multiphonics in Ausgangspunkte at 10:06.

Circular breathing, the technique which allows oboists to maintain very long phrases without seemingly taking a breath is also used - the most obvious example can be found in ‘…sting of the bee…’

One of the striking feature of the music on the CD is the way in which the composers are thinking about and writing for the instrument, often creating a sound world that many would not relate easily to the traditions of the oboe. In a masterclass a few years ago I was demonstrating the highest notes of the instrument and was told that it 'didn’t sound like an oboe’. A better comment would have been ‘I have never heard an oboe sound like that before’.

While the other composers on the CD may not necessarily point to Berio as an influence in their work, the Sequenza is a good starting point for music that explores some of the most technically challenging music in the repertoire.

Berio had a great interest in virtuosity, which is expressed and explored in his series of Sequenzas. He emphasises, however, that this virtuosity is not simply that of fast fingers but a virtuosity of the intellect as well. Similar statements could be made about the other works on this CD. This is music that demands a great deal of listener and performer alike. It is virtuoso music in the sense that there are many notes and great technical challenges, but unlike much music that could be placed under the banner of ‘virtuoso’, this music is neither frivolous nor is it easy listening. There is great passion here, focused intensity, intellectual depth, it is music that is exuberant, moving and challenging.

Michael Finnissy talks in his programme note for Pavasiya of stretching the ‘virtuosic limits of the oboe(s) to the utmost’. This statement could equally be applied at different levels to the other works on this CD, each of which stretches not only the instrument but also the performer. During the course of these works you will hear most of the significant technical developments that have taken place in recent years.

One of the aims I had in the recording was to maintain the physical nature of this music. An essential aspect of a number of these works is that they live on the edge of being unplayable. In live performance things do go wrong, notes are missed, the performer can sound as if he/she is struggling to play the works. In this recording I have tried to maintain this quality by not editing out some of the struggles and obvious areas where I find the works technically challenging.

The CD opens with one of my solo improvisations. Most of my recitals include improvisation not only in works that demand it, but also improvisations that I myself have developed over a period of time. Improvisation in the ‘classical’ world is seen usually to be the domain of the organist or of the expert baroque specialist, all of which I welcome. In my case however I perform solo (and sometimes duo/trio) improvisations to which I give names. Each improvisation has elements that I wish to explore. These can be technical ideas, formal ideas, pitch ideas etc, and the music is frequently a mixture of many different elements.

But improvisation does not stop here. Many of the works on the CD have some elements of improvisation. The Berio asks for an improvisatory approach to the placing of some of the pitches within a very strict framework - the performer’s response to the written text is a vital part of the performance of this work. Young’s work also has a great deal of improvisation both in terms of choice of pitches and the pacing of the work through to the response to the computer’s input.

copyright 2006 Christopher Redgate

Christopher Redgate

photo of Christopher Redgate with contact mike For 25 years Christopher Redgate has specialised in the performance of contemporary music. He studied at Chethams’ School of Music and the Royal Academy of Music where he won several prizes. As a soloist and chamber musician he has performed across Europe, the USA, Mexico, China, Canada and Australia, performing with many of the leading contemporary music ensembles.

Many composers have written for him including Michael Finnissy, Roger Redgate, Christopher Fox, James Clarke, Paul Archbold, Michael Young, Ignacio Baca Lobera and Fabrice Fitch and he has given the first performances of a large number of works.

He is active in teaching both masterclasses for oboists and workshops for composers. From 1986 to 1992 he was the oboe teacher the Darmstädter Ferienkurse für Neue Musik and with his ensemble ‘The Redgate Oboe Quintet’ is currently a ‘Musician in Residence’ at Goldsmith’s College, University of London.

Other recent recordings include Oboe Quintets and other works by contemporary British composers and Ferneyhough’s Allgebrah. He has recently written articles for Contemporary Music Review on Sequenza VII, contemporary approaches to practice and performance preparation and an overview of contemporary oboe techniques.

His current interests include developing solo improvisation in the concert hall, further extending the possibilities of the oboe and encouraging young composers and developing the repertoire of the instrument.

Julian Warburton
Julian Warburton drumming After leaving the GSMD in 1996 Julian Warburton has been at the forefront of a new generation of Percussionists. He is much sought after as a Soloist, Recitalist and Chamber musician.

He has given recital tours in Brazil, India and Switzerland and is a regular performer with many contemporary music ensembles including, Endymion, Nash, Expose, Composers, Apogee, Topologies, BCMG and the London Sinfonietta.

Julian broadcasts regularly on BBC Radio 3. Recent performances have included Joby Talbot’s Incandescence and a Performance of Bartok’s Sonata for 2 Pianos and percussion, and a critically acclaimed performance of Xenakis’ Rebonds at the BBC Proms.

An immensely versatile artist Julian has also performed and collaborated with the Richard Alston Dance Company, the Corrs, V. Selveganesh and Ed Harcourt.

Roger Redgate
Roger Redgate was born in Bolton, Lancashire in 1958. He first studied at Chetham's School of Music in Manchester, and subsequently at the Royal College of Music where he won prizes for composition, violin, harmony and counterpoint. A DAAD scholarship enabled him to further his studies in Germany, studying composition with Brian Ferneyhough and Klaus Huber. From 1989 to 1992 he was Northern Arts Composer Fellow, and has lectured at Durham and Newcastle Universities. He was invited as guest composer and conductor at the Darmstädter Ferienkurse für Neue Musik in 1984, 1986, 1988, 1990, 1992 and 1994 where he received the Kranichsteiner Musikpreis for composition.

He is conductor and artistic director of Ensemble Exposé, with whom he performs regularly at European festivals and on BBC Radio 3, and is currently preparing a CD recording of recent works by Brian Ferneyhough. He has worked in the fields of jazz, improvised music, film and television (including programmes for the BBC and Channel 4), and performance art.

His compositions have been performed extensively throughout Europe, Australia and the USA and he has received commissions from the BBC, the French Ministry of Culture, the Darmstädter Ferienkurse für Neue Musik, the Venice Biennale and Ensemble 21 New York. He has published articles on music and culture, the music of Brian Ferneyhough and Michael Finnissy, including a chapter in the book Uncommon Ground: The Music of Michael Finnissy.

CD recordings of more of his works are available on the NMC and Edition Zeitklang labels and further recordings are in preparation due for release on the Metier and NMC labels.

Michael Young

Michael Young at the <i>Argrophylax</i> computer Michael Young was born in South Shields, in the North East of England in 1968. He studied at Oxford University and with John Casken at Durham University, and was awarded a PhD in Composition in 1995. He now lecturers at Goldsmiths College, University of London.

His music uses a eclectic range of conventional and electroacoustic resources. One strand of his music combines a freely expressive musical world with contemporary ideas, (e.g. She Tells He Love While Half-Asleep, 1991). He has also collaborated with jazz musicians and improvisers as a pianist, laptop musician and composer, and has created electroacoustic music for theatrical productions and gallery exhibitions (e.g. his surround-sound-scape for John Goto's New World Circus, 2006).

His more recent work focuses on instrument(s) + computer using Max/MSP. Argrophylax is a from a series of works best described as "living" computer music. In all these pieces, performer(s) make music in collaboration with an intelligent music system - unique for each piece - designed by the composer. Other works include Chatterbox (2000) for flute, ebbs- (2005) for violin and 'cello and au(or)a (2006) for solo instrument, all with interactive computers. Michael is co-founder of the Live Algorithms for Music network, an organisation created in 2004 to bring together performers and researchers in music, cognition and software engineering. www.myoungmusic.com

Michael Finnissy
Michael Finnissy was born in South London in 1946. Having started writing when he as about four years old, he eventually went to the Royal College as a Foundation Scholar, and studied with Bernard Stevens and Humphrey Searle. He also studied with Roman Vlad in Italy.

He has performed, broadcast and taught across the world, currently holding a professorship at Southampton University.

Sam Hayden
Sam Hayden was born in Portsmouth in 1968 and studied composition with Martin Butler and Jonathan Harvey at Sussex University, Louis Andriessen at Den Haag Conservatorium and Brian Ferneyhough at Stanford University.

Collateral Damage (1999) for 14 instruments, commissioned for the Faber Music Millennium Series, was premiered by Kokoro in 2000, and subsequently performed by Ensemble Intercontemporain and the London Sinfonietta. Sunk Losses (2002) for orchestra won first prize in the Christoph Delz Foundation Second Competition for Composers and was performed by the Saarbrücken Radio Symphony Orchestra in May 2003.

Recent commissions include Le Retour à la Raison (2003) for solo percussion and live electronics, written for Miquel Bernat of Ictus, and Emergence (2004) for solo accordion, ensemble and live electronics, written for Frode Haltli and the Oslo Sinfonietta/NoTAM and performed at the 2004 Ultima and Huddersfield festivals. Relative Autonomy (2004) for ensemble, written for the London Sinfonietta, was performed at a BBC invitation concert at LSO St Luke's, London in 2005 and at the Berlin Philharmonie during MaerzMusik 2005. Impetus (2005) for solo percussion, written for Claire Edwardes was premiered at the 2005 Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival. Hayden is currently writing a new work for the BBC Symphony Orchestra.

Hayden’s works have been recorded on the GROB, NMC, UTS and Divine Art labels. He is currently working as a lecturer in music at Sussex University and co-directs ensemble [rout]. [yes this is the name, it’s not a note!]

Luciano Berio
Berio was born in 1925 in Oneglia, Italy the son of a musical family. He studied at the Milan Conservatoire from 1945 and in 1952 with Dallapiccola in Tanglewood. Berio was influential in the founding of the Studio di Fonologia, an electronic music studio in Milan and became, along with Maderna, a co-director. In 1958 he began his series of Sequenzas - the first being for solo flute. He died in 2003.

Michael Finnissy, Pavasiya (extract)
Press Comment
"This extraordinary disc from the oboe fanatic's label is a showcase for multiphonics, triple tonguing, flutter tonguing and circular breathing. But while the sounds and their production are compelling, this is intensely meaningful virtuosity... Although primarily an interpreter, Redgate improvises on "Le Api" ("The Bees") by 19th century oboist Antonino Pasculli, blasting through a compendium of extended techniques like a free jazz wildman... Forget the instrument's bucolic image, this is a great recording of new music." The Wire

"The works receive performances which are both technical feats of virtuosity as well as the products of a virtuosic imagination. Interestingly, listening to Sequenza VII after the other works, which push the oboe beyond the extremities of register and technique, reveals new perspectives on the work - never have I experienced such a tender reading of the work, particularly during the final section in which the multiphonics stand so elegantly poised.

"Redgate's programme note claims that Ausgangspunkte, by the performer's brother, Roger Redgate, is 'the most difficult work in the repertoire', a claim which to this listener certainly seems justified. The work leaps across and beyond the register in both rapid and slow passages, instilling a response in the listener which is both agitated and compelling. Despite its no doubt rigorous compositional structures, the kaleidoscopic and menagerie-like hysteria makes for an intensely physical experience and it is amongst Redgate's finest works.

"Michael Finnissy writes so well for wind and Pavasiya is a powerful, yearning work for oboe and oboe d'amore. Despite the flurries which occur sporadically, the impression is one of sustained lyricism - no quasi-romantic gestures here, though, but an earthy, primeval force, free of cultivated clutter.

"The disc opens with a solo improvisation featuring a whirlwind of trills of all kinds, including extraordinary multiphonic trilling, which bears comparison to the solo improvisations of saxophonist Evan Parker." Philip Thomas, Society for the Promotion of New Music Magazine

"Berio's Sequenza VII is a classic of the genre... Michael Finnissy's music is by turns seamless, slow and ritualistic, and then insistantly forceful. Roger Redgate and Sam Hayden both create a stark, manic and violent landscape where the dynamic of fortissimo is continually energised into new territories. Michael Young's piece with interactive computer explores a deeper colourful world of expression... Throughout, Christopher Redgate gives everything, not only in terms of his commitment, but also in his undying energy." Melinda Maxwell, Double Reed News (UK)

Listener Comment
"It's not simply your virtuosity which amazes me, it is the sensitivity of your artistry, especially in Roger [Redgate]'s piece and the Berio. There is no question in my mind that yours (without exception) is the finest recording of the Sequenza and the finest performance... This is the finest possible tribute to your playing and to the composers you have served with such integrity." Edwin Roxburgh

"I found the CD very interesting in terms of the advanced oboe technique used. Most fascinating from that point of view was the improvisation by Christopher Redgate, a real tour de force of circular breathing and relentless trilling! And of course, Berio's inventiveness is always remarkable." Brian Elias

back to top to main catalogue