Thursday, July 21, 2011

Six Metamorphoses after Ovid for Oboe Solo

 Another oboe piece that I am seeking to resurrect from my musical past is the Six Metamorphoses after Ovid.  This set of 6 songs for the oboe are delightful to listen to and to play.  I never performed the complete work, but I did play two of the 6 as audition pieces for a scholarship once. I got the scholarship. That was awhile ago.  They are not really technically all that difficult, but the devil is definitely in the details on this one.  There is no other instrument to help the poor oboist, either.  One is completely exposed, and every little imperfection is magnified. One nice thing, though, is that the player can take all the time they need to get a good breath between phrases because of the liberal use of both fermatas and breath marks.  Evidently Britten loved oboists.

These are a lot of fun to play.  This work fits into  the genre of programme music. That is, the composer attempts to tell a story through the music.

I had to take about a week break from the oboe because of a very unexpected emergency surgery.  Not fun, but not all that bad either.  I'm working on I. PAN for now.  Here is a performance of that piece by British oboist, Nicholas Daniel. Does it sound like the god, Pan, playing on his pipe, which was really his beloved Syinx?  Not sure, but it is a nice song well played by an excellent musician.

The background information for this post was taken from Wikkipedia.  It is the easiest and most concise reference online, though it has not established itself as a completely reliable source.  It is still very handy, especially since my intention is not to become an authority on the life and works of Benjamin Britten.

I sang parts of two seasons in the Bremerton Choral, and we did 2 of Brtten's pieces during that time.: A Ceremony of Carols and Rejoice in the Lamb. So, these three pieces are pretty much the extent of my direct musical  experience with Briten's works.

The Six Metamorphoses after Ovid for Oboe Solo was composed by Benjamin Britten. It is his Opus 49 and was written in 1951 for Joy Boughton.  She was the daughter of a friend and fellow composer, Rutland Broughton.

Britten was a 20th century British composer, conductor, and pianist.  He is best known as a composer of opera, but he also wrote some instrumental works.
This work for oboe was first performed at the Aldeburgh Festival on 14 June 1951.

The six pieces are titled.:

 Pan, who played upon the reed pipe which was Syrinx, his beloved
 Phaeton, who rode upon the chariot of the sun for one day and was hurled into the river Padus by a thunderbolt. 
 Niobe, who, lamenting the death of her fourteen children, was turned into a mountain. 
Bacchus, at whose feasts is heard the noise of gaggling women's tattling tongues and shouting out of boys. 
Narcissus, who fell in love with his own image and became a flower. 
Arethusa, who, flying from the love of Alpheus the river god, was turned into a fountain. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 

Both Wikkipedia and You Tube enrich my life!


RobinDesHautbois said...

I played Niobe and Arethusa at the anniversary mass for my late brother's funeral.... from tragedy to rejuvenation!

Nicholas Daniel is performing the whole thing quite beautifully - a real living study guide.

Do have fun reviving these tunes!

Mrs. Webfoot said...

Good to hear from you, Robin. Thank you for the encouragement. Yes, I'm having fun with these pieces.

I'm sorry about your brother. That must have been very hard on you and your family. You are very strong to be able to play such an homage at your brother's funeral.

Yes, Daniel plays these very beautifully, and it is clear what he is doing. Britten's markings are quite clear, too, and Daniel follows them well, but at the same time making the piece his own.

It is wonderful to have such excellent interpretations available online.

I know that I played Bacchus for the audition, and maybe Pan was the other one. It's been a long time ago.

Have a wonderful weekend. Take care.