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I really like VW's Oboe Concerto and MacMillan's Harmonia Mundi release was one of my first acquisitions, (in super duper DSD), but I found myself slightly disappointed by the flatness of the sound and graininess in the strings. Granted, the accompanying chamber orchestra doesn't get many star turns in this piece, but in the closing pages, they finally get to sing and it's one of the most beautiful couple of seconds in all Vaughan Williams. Hard to enjoy when one's teeth are set on edge.
As for the oboist, IMHO MacMillan is dreamy to a fault and as a consequence the performance loses its way.
I discovered that Geoffery Deemer and the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia have recorded piece as well so I thought, why not? (The VW is obviously not listed on the cover.)
I like this performance better. Strings are still not as smooth as I'd like, (Come on, engineers, it's 2017!) but thanks to the more holographic recording, (2 channel) the chamber orchestra is laid-out more realistically. VW's polyphony is densely woven to say the least and the oboist's warbling is often closely imitated by the cello and viola: these delightful conversations are barely overheard in the HM issue, but captured beautifully by the Philly team.
Compared to MacMillan, Deemer is much better at propelling the piece along. Coupled with COP's clearer projection of VW's often quicksilver harmonic progressions, The COP release makes for a more satisfying listen.
I'm shocked I tell you - SHOCKED!! ;-)
Seriously though, I have the HM SACD, but not the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia download so I haven't heard the latter. I do like the HM performance and recording though, and the RVW Oboe Concerto is another one of those works which I like to think that I know well, having played it (the piano reduction) a couple of times with different oboists. The only other recording of the work I have is the old Nimbus recording (on plain old CD) with Boughton conducting - it's not bad, but I like the HM performance/SQ much better. I'll listen to it again later today though.
sound, so far.
Not as bad as a Columbia 2-eye though, just something that tenses me up. Patti the piccolo player in my head is still playing her endless A, but I'm able to hear around it. Even if you're not as distracted, the COP is far more interesting.
Man, VW's writing is so contrapuntal, it's hard to imagine the piano reduction sounding like the same piece at times.
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