- Alchemy for solo oboe, Op. 60
- Mandala, for oboe & piano
- Reflections on a Song, for english horn & electronic sounds
- Aria, for oboe & string orchestra (or string quintet)
- Sonata for oboe & piano
- Adagio in E flat, for oboe & string quintet
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This elegantly rendered disc of chamber music can be recommended to audiences beyond the primary ones of oboe and English horn players. Having these instruments as a common element among the half-dozen highly diverse pieces presented can help the listener get a handle on some of the thornier styles of the twentieth century, especially inasmuch as soloist Mark Hill brings equal enthusiasm and even a welcome touch of humor to each of the pieces on the disc. The music exemplifies an unusually wide variety of styles. George Heussenstamm's "Alchemy for solo oboe, Op. 60," is a contemporary virtuoso piece in the Berio vein, demanding that Hill both master extended playing techniques and accompany a track he has already recorded. The "Mandala for oboe and piano" of Dana Wilson does not quite deliver the circular structures promised, at least not to the degree that a listener uncoached by booklet notes would hear them. But the seemingly antiquated medium of electronic tape yields one of the album's most attractive pieces: Greg D'Alessio's "Reflections on a Song for English horn and electronic sounds" achieves an enjoyable synchronicity between the lyrical English horn lines and the busy electronics. John Corigliano's "Aria for oboe and string quartet," arranged from a movement of his early oboe concerto, serves as a pleasant interlude before the serialist "Sonata for oboe and piano, Op. 17," of Gunther Schuller. It is hard to hear the jazz influence that is claimed for this work, but its clear three-movement classical structures leave the listener free to concentrate on the tonal aspect. (The booklet notes by Bonnie Jo Dopp are informative but needed proofreading: surely a writer claiming that a listener can follow the precise permutations of a tone row ought to spell Schoenberg correctly, to say nothing of Schuller.) The "Adagio in E flat for oboe and string quartet" by Tison Street makes a wonderful, long-breathed conclusion in a very Mahlerian-lyrical vein. The sound offers nothing to interfere with the listener's perceptions of a nicely rounded program.