As a glance at the titles for this release indicates, this is pretty much an album of reconstructions. In his learned and usefully comprehensive booklet notes, Geoffrey Burgess describes how Bach’s concertos for harpsichord can be shown to have had other intended solo instruments, the oboe in particular, in mind. Bach wrote more solos for the oboe into his cantatas than for any other instrument, and so the lack of concertante works for the instrument argues that several may have been lost or have only survived in other guises.
"…All three works are superbly played here by the brilliantly nimble Stefan Schilli, and Mariss Jansons and the Bavarian orchestra give him vivid support. I cannot think of a more enticing triptych of modern oboe concertos from any other source." ~Grammophone
Johann Gottlieb Graun became a member of the small court orchestra of the Prussian Crown Prince Frederick in Ruppin in 1732, which Carl Heinrich also joined in 1735. With Friedrich's ascension to the throne in 1740, Johann Gottlieb was appointed concertmaster and Carl Heinrich kapellmeister of the royal court. Johann Gottlieb remained until the end of his life closely linked to Frederick the Great, as concertmaster and chamber musician. Whilst his brother Carl Heinrich became an important figure at the new Berlin Court Opera, Johann Gottlieb strongly influenced the musical life of Berlin and early classicism in general as a violinist and composer.
This double CD compiles recordings of 20th century oboe concertos made in recent years with the RSO Frankfurt's solo oboist Fabian Menzel. The selection does not attempt to be representative of oboe composition at the end of the last century, since such a repertoire is to extensive and varied. The five pieces presented in this edition, however, are interesting and significant contributions to the genre and vary greatly in terms of their conception.
For such an outstanding composer, relatively little is known about Vivaldi's life beyond the fact that he was born and raised in Venice. This is ironic, considering this great Baroque composer's close association in the public's mind with everything Venetian – an association only bettered by Canaletto.
Vivaldi's father was a violinist at St. Mark's, and there are indications that Antonio received his early musical schooling from within the family. He is understood to have trained as a priest, and was ordained in 1703. With this achieved, Vivaldi gave up any pretence to a life of the cloth and instead concentrated on his musical career. The same year he was appointed as maestro di violino by the Ospedale della Pieta, a charitable religious foundation for the education and upbringing of female orphans. His relationship with the Pieta was to last for the rest of his life, a central pivot around which his musical activities could revolve..
…these recordings were nothing short of "must haves". While – in the intervening years – performance practices have encountered emendation and musical aesthetics have been altered, the immense musical and artistic value of these performances still holds.
C.P.E. Bach’s two surviving oboe concertos both began as keyboard concertos that were later transcribed for oboe; their intended performer was probably Johann Christian Fischer, a virtuoso based in Potsdam in the mid 1760s. This would perhaps account for their technical and immensely challenging solo lines, which suggest that, like his father, Carl Philipp Emmanuel revelled in pushing instruments and performers to their limits.