• Judith Weir
  • Oboe Concerto (2018)

  • Chester Music Ltd (World)

Commissioned by the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra and West Australian Symphony Orchestra.

  • 20222000str
  • Oboe
  • 18 min

Programme Note

Having played the oboe myself as a young person, the composition of an Oboe Concerto had an almost autobiographical significance for me. It was also a memory exercise, as I recalled in detail some of the music I had learned so carefully during those years. One important work, the Strauss Concerto, was helpful with my choice of accompanying instruments; just a wind octet plus strings.

My Concerto is in two movements. The first begins with the oboe more or less solo, flying lyrically through the open air, though soon in dialogue with the strings. The orchestral winds enter unobtrusively, one by one until gradually approaching the first of two major tuttis. After the second of these (which contrasts strong orchestral sentences with almost brutal oboe attacks) the music winds down, again lyrically, and with the oboe nearly always in the foreground.

The second movement could be compared with a passacaglia structure; an orchestral grid that repeats multiple times, but always in transformed scoring, for strings and (later on) bassoons only, with ornamentation by the oboe soloist. Some of the baroque and early classical concertos I used to play (for instance that by Cimarosa) were influential on the melancholy but also dance-like feel of this music.

Finally the winds re-enter with a short sequence of scherzo-like noises, before an extended, up-tempo coda brings the music to its conclusion with, once more, the oboe fluently in the foreground.

My Oboe Concerto was written for Celia Craig, who gave the first performance in Adelaide in October 2018 with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra (conducted by Douglas Boyd). This orchestra was one of the co-commissioners, along with West Australian Symphony Orchestra and the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra. The UK premiere of the work was given by Celia Craig with BBC NOW in September 2019.

The duration of the Oboe Concerto is around 20 minutes.

Programme note © 2019 Judith Weir

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