Johann Wilhelm Hertel: Oboe Concertos. Katarzyna Pilipiuk, baroque oboe, director; Ensemble Il Vento. © 2024 Brilliant Classics


Delightful and Skilfully Crafted

GEOFF PEARCE listens to oboe concertos by Hertel

'Oboist Katarzyna Pilipiuk is superb. She produces a pleasing tone, is precise in her fingerwork and has marvellous intonation.'


Johann Wilhelm Hertel (1727-1789) is one of those composers of the Rococo period that has largely received little attention. He was born in Eisenach, in the same town as J S Bach. In his youth, he often went on tour with his father (who was a viola da gamba virtuoso). His Grandfather also was a musician of note. He studied harpsichord with C P E Bach, violin with Franz Benda and composition with Karl Heinrich Graun. He wrote a wide range of music and very little has been performed in modern times. This is a pity because his music is well crafted, enjoyable to listen to, and deserves much greater exposure. I had only heard and played one work of his - a trio sonata for flute, oboe and organ, which we performed in a chamber music competition - until this CD came across my path. This disc contains four beautiful oboe concertos.

The first concerto, No 5 in G minor, is in three movements. The first movement is quite emotionally stormy and reminds me a lot of some of C P E Bach's concerto movements. The ensemble work is taut and well balanced. Oboist Katarzyna Pilipiuk is superb. She produces a pleasing tone, is precise in her fingerwork and has marvellous intonation. She also phrases beautifully and is a great example of how far HIP performances have come over the last thirty to forty years.

Listen — Hertel: [Allegro] (Oboe Concerto No 5 in G minor)
(97097 track 1, 4:58-5:43) ℗ 2024 Brilliant Classics :

The measured second movement shows Hertel in a calmer mood, and I could imagine that his vocal music would be equally fine. The third movement is lively and somewhat stormy, like the first movement. Hertel also likes long introductions before the soloist enters. There is ample opportunity for the soloist to show her deft fingerwork in this concerto, and her sound and intonation are very impressive.

Listen — Hertel: Finale (Oboe Concerto No 5 in G minor)
(97097 track 3, 2:56-3:53) ℗ 2024 Brilliant Classics :

The Concerto No 6 in G major is also, like all of these concertos, in three movements, and is somewhat shorter than the previous one. Whilst the influence of C P E Bach is still present, it is not as pronounced as in the previous concerto. It is also slightly more relaxed in style and the sound is warm and sunny. Again the ensemble and oboist are very fine, and the performance is enjoyable. I was most impressed by the soloist's ornamentation.

Listen — Hertel: Largo (Oboe Concerto No 6 in G)
(97097 track 5, 0:41-1:35) ℗ 2024 Brilliant Classics :

This is followed by Concerto No 2 in E minor - the shortest of the concertos on this recording. (Hertel wrote ten known oboe concertos.) In this elegant work, the orchestral part is as important as the soloist. As in all the other concertos, all of the movements have a considerably long introductions before the soloist enters. The second movement is affectionate in nature and the third movement sprightly and spirited.

Listen — Hertel: Allegro ma non troppo (Oboe Concerto No 2 in E minor)
(97097 track 9, 1:37-2:12) ℗ 2024 Brilliant Classics :

The final concerto in this recording, No 7, returns to the key of G minor, and again the influence of C P E Bach is not far away, although it is not as obvious as in Concerto No 5. I found that the writing reminded me a lot of the oboe concertos of J C Fischer. I am certain that they knew each other. There is some virtuosic writing in this concerto - a work that would be thrilling to play.

Listen — Hertel: Presto (Oboe Concerto No 7 in G minor)
(97097 track 12, 0:45-1:33) ℗ 2024 Brilliant Classics :

I hope fervently that Hertel's delightful and skilfully crafted works are rediscovered and performed more often, as they should be. I am very happy that the fine oboist on this recording took the time and effort to produce this disc. She also directed the very fine Ensemble Il Vento and also wrote the booklet programme notes.

Copyright © 21 April 2024 Geoff Pearce,
Sydney, Australia



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