«The Lotus Pond»
Gamal Abdek-Rahim: Boyayrat al-lotus
Hilary Tann: Shakkei
Do Hong Quan: Four Pictures
Marcelle Soulage: Pastorale
Derek Limback: Ripple Effect
Elizabeth Vercoe: Butterfly Effects
Cynthia Green Libby (oboe), Susanna Reichling, Scott Cameron (percussion), Wie-Han Su, Peter Collins (piano), Jeremy Chessman (harp)
Recorded at Ellis Recital Hall, Missouri State University, Springfield, Missouri, (April & May 21, 2011) – 58’41
MSR Classic #: MS 1421 – Booklet with program in English
The plaintive singing of the oboe is unique among the woodwinds, drawing the listener in as a performer creates clear but often-edgy tones. In the 19th century, oboes with darkly colored tones were made for artists playing German music. Other oboes created the light, bright sounds appropriate to the French style. Cynthia Green Libby, the featured artist on «The Lotus Pond» plays a Josef oboe which offers the opportunity to play both rich tones and is structured to blow for a lighter feel. In the music performed on this CD, Libby displays her range.
Abdel-Rahim’s Boyayrat al-lotus is the first offering. Fusing traditional Egyptian musical elements with contemporary European ones, the oboe takes on an oriental hue. The piano breaks up in chords beneath the melody, and percussion, almost like a snake hissing, erupts from time to time. The skitting oboe is still pure and held in dynamic control by Libby.
Several world premiers are included. Shakkei is a Diptych for oboe and small orchestra by Welsh composer Hilary Tann. Colorful melodies give up their oriental harshness and are lovely and warm. Libby comfortably leaps over octaves, revealing the gentle and expressive nature of her instrument.
Do Hong Quan is music director of his father’s opera company in Korea, and a film score composer for The Sounds of Burning Grass and other titles. In Four Pictures, contrasting movements yield up the sounds of Vietnamese folk music with contemporary harmonies. Susan Reichling and Scott Cameron, percussionists, play tam-tam (including an improvised cadenza), tom-toms, cowbell and bass drum.
Marcelle Soulage is represented by Pastorale which sometimes imitates a shepherd’s pipe and at others angels, like the angels’ horns depicted in medieval and later religious imagery. A mood of uncertainty gives up to an oasis of still beauty as languid musical lines unfold.
Marcelle Soulage (1894-1970) is herself an interesting figure. Born in Peru, she enrolled at the once male-dominated Conservatoire in Paris in 1911, studying piano and accompaniment with Nadia Boulanger. Soulage then served as professor of piano at the Orléans Conservatoire and professor of music theory at the Conservatoire national supérieur in Paris.
Derek Limback’s Ripple Effect ranges from Resilience to Beauty to Joy. Both the harp and oboe are very bright and light here. Limback’s music is intended to penetrate the listener’s ear and also the tactile senses. It has thickness, pulse and texture. Elizabeth Vercoe’s Butterfly Effects for harp and oboe explores butterfly effects, which are a delicate fantasia. Twisting, turning, her gorgeous music is explored in two contrasting textures. The two instruments buzz, flutter and carouse with each other with striking inventiveness.
Libby has a clear control of vibration and supple phrasing. Sometimes you can imagine her holding the oboe close to her body, American style. The reeds have their bark scraped clean. She probably places her teeth on the reed to get rid of the reedy sound from time to time.
The recording has an unusually edged contemplative beauty, often silken in tone. It will give pleasure for meditation and also for an understanding of the oboe’s singular charms.