The Oboe in Dresden - Xenia Löffler

CD Spotlight

Judged to Perfection

Baroque oboe sonatas played by Xenia Löffler,
strongly recommended by GEOFF PEARCE

'... played very pleasingly with great style and panache by all instruments concerned.'

 

This is a beautiful CD and I urge anyone who likes Baroque oboe music, especially period instrument performances to seek out this superb disk.

The opening work, Vivaldi's Sonata in C minor for oboe and basso continuo, is a personal favourite. This recording appeals as it does not over-embellish the vocal line, and the balance between oboe, harpsichord and bassoon is very good. The oboe tone is very pleasing, and the soloist, Xenia Löffler, has a great understanding of the melodic line, as she does throughout this disc. Her technique is flawless, and the tempi are always judged to perfection. I am amazed at the speed and dexterity of her final movement. This is a challenge on a modern oboe, and simply astounding on this instrument, yet every note is clear - the articulations are precise.

Listen — Vivaldi: Allegro (Sonata for oboe and basso continuo in C minor, RV 53)
(track 4, 0:00-0:40) © 2019 note 1 music gmbh :

This work is followed by a lovely concerto for oboe, violin, cello and basso continuo, possibly by Reichenauer. This is a bright, cheerful work, and again is played very pleasingly with great style and panache by all instruments concerned. The balance of all the instruments on this recording is exemplary.

Listen — anonymous: Adagio (Concerto for oboe, violin, cello and basso continuo in B)
(track 6, 0:59-1:39) © 2019 note 1 music gmbh :

I had never played nor heard the Quartett for two oboes, bassoon and basso continuo in G minor for two oboes, bassoon and continuo by J F Fasch, but by coincidence, the day before this disc arrived, my teacher and I spent some time playing the two oboe parts It was a delight to work on, and this recording is most welcome. The two oboes are beautifully paired and are sympathetic to each other's playing, as are the very important bassoon and continuo parts.

Listen — Johann Friedrich Fasch: Allegro
(Quartett for two oboes, bassoon and basso continuo, FaWV N:g1)
(track 9, 0:42-1:29) © 2019 note 1 music gmbh :

I am quite familiar with the trio sonata for oboe, violin and continuo in G minor by Telemann, having played it as a work with two oboes. The performance here of this short work is really stunning. The solo and ensemble work cannot be faulted. Like every work on this disc, the performances are musical, stylish and without affectation.

The sonata in C minor for oboe and basso continuo by G B Platti is a delight. I played this with a guitar many years ago, but had not heard it since, so was delighted to find that it was included on this disc. Platti was an oboist, but the melodic line is so vocal that it could easily have been written for voice. Xenia Löffler realises this so well, and in the more florid sections of the faster movements, revels in the very tricky passages. This can not be easy, as there is a great deal of cross fingering involved, and with only two keys on the instrument, delivers a performance that would make many modern instrument players, myself included, green with envy.

Listen — Giovanni Benedetto Platti: Allegro assai
(Sonata for oboe and basso continuo in C minor)
(track 16, 2:14-2:55) © 2019 note 1 music gmbh :

J A Hasse is another composer so often overlooked. I had not heard his concerto for chalumeau, oboe and bassoon with continuo. The chalumeau was an emerging instrument at this time, later superseded by the clarinet. The sound works well with the baroque oboe, but I think it would be more problematic if it were played by modern oboe and clarinet. I hope that this is a work that gets played more frequently.

This is followed by another work whose composer has not been identified, a trio sonata for oboe, violin and continuo in G minor. Perhaps it is by Pisendel, as it is preserved in his handwriting. The violin is more to the fore in most of the movements of this sonata, with the exception of the Sarabande.

The final work on this disc is very interesting. It is by G H Stölzel, a composer I had heard of, but never heard. It is scored for oboe, violin, horn and continuo. It is nice to round off this excellent disc with a slightly different sound.

Listen — Gottfried Heinrich Stölzel: Allegro
(Sonata 1 for oboe, violin, horn and basso continuo in G minor)
(track 28, 1:07-1:42) © 2019 note 1 music gmbh :

This is an absolute delight of a disc, and the music making is of the very first order. Xenia Löffler is the shining light, and has revealed herself as a baroque oboist of the highest rank. This is to take absolutely nothing away from her most excellent colleagues who shine along with her.

Many modern performances of Baroque music, at least to me, can seem somewhat extreme in speed, rhythmic affectation, overly edgy or bright or over ornamented at the expense of the melodic line. This disc does not fall into any of those 'traps' and the result is one that is most natural sounding and pleasing. I strongly recommend this disc to all lovers of Baroque music, whether you like it played on period instruments or modern ones. You will not be disappointed.

Copyright © 9 December 2019 Geoff Pearce,
Sydney, Australia

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CD INFORMATION: THE OBOE IN DRESDEN - XENIA LÖFFLER

 

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