Take Two Oboes is one of a series of light-hearted pieces written with advice from performers who are also experienced teachers. Many of these pieces explore some specific opportunities and challanges inherent in the technique of each instrument.
Thea Musgrave decided to write some pieces for pairs of instruments, partly for use in teaching and partly for the fun of hearing two of the same instruments performing together as they do in Mozart or Haydn Symphonies.
She asked me for some tricky technical challenges that one might be asking students to work on that could be difficult to have in a solo piece.
The specifics I suggested are for the fingers: the intervals D flat to E flat to E natural because of the coordination of the right hand fourth finger and left hand little finger, also the change from B flat to B natural, because of left hand little finger manipulation (although some oboe fingering systems call for left hand thumb and third finger).
An additional technical issue is the realisation of a low B flat. It is famously recalcitrant to control but wonderfully sonorous when one does. Thea uses it to great effect in her Oboe and Percussion Concerto, 'Two's Company' which she wrote for Evelyn Glennie and myself.
I also asked Thea to share the melodic lines in order to enable the student and teacher to work towards matching sound quality and I specifically asked her to write high up in the register to force the practising of top note fingerings at all dynamics but particularly piano and cantabile.
There is nothing of this quality written for duet in this way and that makes these delightful pieces unique.