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on 2 April 2014
"There are more things in heaven and earth," Hamlet informs Horatio, "than are dreamt of in your philosophy." No-one is exempt from this maxim. In my instance, the gap has been reduced somewhat by the incursion of this disc into my life. With the exception of the slow movement of BWV 1059, the repertoire was largely new to me. And what music it is! It is immensely civilising and pacific. Moreover, it stokes our longing for Arcadia. As this state may elude us all, this entreaty - for entreaty it is - will suffice for the moment. It's far more than a placebo.

Heinz Holliger is a leading exponent of his art. He plays with immense insight and éclat. Such be his artistry, it's difficult to reconcile the lower and upper registers of his oboe: it sounds like two different instruments. The Academy of St Martins in the Field rises to the occasion under the baton of Iona Brown: it so captures the nobility and hauteur of these creations. This is how to play Bach on modern-day instruments where power and clarity are conjugal. For its duration, it seems impossible to interpret these masterpieces in any other fashion.

The very existence of this disc causes the Period Practice Taliban to mount their asses (or is that the other way around?) and fire their AK-47s into the air. And well it might: there is no clipped phrasing or "vinegar of strings". The Philips recording from May 1982 - so long ago, the Garden - is exemplary: there is no digital sheen whatsoever. Carpe diem! Meridians ahoy!
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on 4 October 2014
Holliger's playing on this disc is just sublime. The beauty of his playing took my breath away. I have 15 other Holliger CDs, but for me perhaps this one displays his artistry most clearly.

Iona Brown at the helm provides steady,(not to say stodgy) and well-executed accompaniment. But for me at least, the orchestral playing here slightly lacks the degree of charm and dance we've come to expect from more recent renditions of Bach's concerti. I sound like I'm damning with faint praise, and maybe I am. The accompaniment is correct, but just a tad...'70s-ish.

Holliger has since re-recorded some of these with Camerata Bern on ECM. I also have this disc, which critics slavered over:

Concertos & Sinfonias for Oboe / Ich Hatte Viel

This also is very good, but here are the tradeoffs. The tempi are perhaps a bit more up-to-date on ECM, but Holliger isn't as prominently miked, and the combination of the miking (and well, probably, his age) makes this a different experience. His playing is almost as lovely, I just wish it stood out more.

I also really enjoyed Paul Goodwin's renditions of Bach and Telemann concerti on Helios:

Bach & Telemann: Oboe & Oboe d'amore Concertos
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