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Britten, Bliss: Music For Oboe And Strings, Quartets / Klein

Release Date: 10/31/2006 
Label:  Cedille Records   Catalog #: 93   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Benjamin BrittenSir Arthur Bliss
Performer:  Richard YoungMathias TackeMarc JohnsonShmuel Ashkenasi,   ... 
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vermeer String Quartet
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 2 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Chamber music with oboe usually suffers from one major problem: the oboe. Not here. Alex Klein's tone is so sweet and mellow that you could listen to him for hours without it ever becoming fatiguing. In the Britten Phantasy, about eight minutes in, there's a high, exposed entrance that's so pure that you'd swear you were listening to a flute. In short, the playing here is gorgeous, and the music no less rewarding. The Britten is his Op. 2, but is entirely typical of his early genius, while the Bliss is a major work full of that composer's bittersweet lyricism.

Britten's Third Quartet is a moving and at times creepy work, which isn't surprising as it quotes from the definitely creepy opera Death in Venice. It was dedicated to
Read more Hans Keller, an absolute loon of a string pedagogue who wrote a bizarrely entertaining book on Haydn's string quartets, among other things. The Vermeer Quartet, excellent in the other works on the disc, plays it with total confidence and impressively secure intonation, particularly in the high-lying third movement. The long final passacaglia, with its unresolved ending, is extremely moving too. Cedille's sonics are perfectly balanced and very natural, but also just a touch close, catching some breathing from the quartet and clicking valves from Klein. This is a very rewarding and enjoyable release.

--David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com

Now in its farewell season, the esteemed Vermeer Quartet joins forces with phenomenal oboist Alex Klein in three pillars of 20th-century British chamber music.

Benjamin Britten’s spellbinding Phantasy Quartet (1932) for oboe, violin, viola, and cello was his first work to gain international recognition. This passionate piece displays elements that became hallmarks of his unique style.

Noteworthy for its sublime balance between oboe and strings, Arthur Bliss’s gorgeous Quintet for Oboe and String Quartet (1927) deftly blends diverse styles and influences, concluding with the ingenious use of an Irish jig.

In a fitting finale, the Vermeer plays Britten’s last major work, the String Quartet No. 3 (1975). The New York Times says of the valedictory piece, “Every episode. . . seems to emanate from some mystical realm.”

The Vermeer Quartet “As luminous and evocative as their namesake’s paintings.” (New York Times)

Alex Klein oboe “One of the most amazing virtuosi on any instrument.” (Seattle Times)
Read less

Works on This Recording

Quartet for Strings no 3, Op. 94 by Benjamin Britten
Performer:  Richard Young (Viola), Mathias Tacke (Violin), Marc Johnson (Cello),
Shmuel Ashkenasi (Violin)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vermeer String Quartet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1975; England 
Venue:  WFMT Radio Studios, Chicago, Illinois 
Length: 25 Minutes 58 Secs. 
Notes: WFMT Radio Studios, Chicago, Illinois (04/25/2006 - 04/26/2006) 
Phantasy for Oboe and String Trio, Op. 2 by Benjamin Britten
Performer:  Alex Klein (Oboe), Richard Young (Viola), Marc Johnson (Cello),
Shmuel Ashkenasi (Violin)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1932; England 
Date of Recording: 10/04/2005 
Venue:  WFMT Radio Studios, Chicago, Illinois 
Length: 13 Minutes 16 Secs. 
Quintet for Oboe and Strings, F 21 by Sir Arthur Bliss
Performer:  Shmuel Ashkenasi (Violin), Marc Johnson (Cello), Richard Young (Viola),
Mathias Tacke (Violin), Alex Klein (Oboe)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vermeer String Quartet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1927; England 
Date of Recording: 10/03/2005 
Venue:  WFMT Radio Studios, Chicago, Illinois 
Length: 22 Minutes 35 Secs. 

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