21st Century Oboe
Christopher Redgate & the Howarth-Redgate Oboe
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Now Available: Electrifying oboe 

 

Roger Redgate's Concerto for Improvising Soloist and Two Ensembles and Michael Young's oboe_prosthesis

Roger Redgate: Concerto for Improvising Soloist and two Ensembles (two versions) 

David Gorton: Erinnerungsspiel and Schmeterlingsspiel 

Christopher Fox: Headlong and Broadway Boogie 

Michael Young: oboe_prosthesis (two versions) 

Edwin Roxburgh: '...at the still point of the turning world...' 

Matthew Wright: English Landscape Painting

Reviews of Electrifying Oboe:

COMPOSITION TODAY:

Electrifying Oboe on Métier is a disc of experimental works for oboe (and sister instruments) by Roger Redgate, David Gorton, Christopher Fox, Edwin Roxburgh, Michael Young and Matthew Wright. Collaboration is very much the order of the day in all of these pieces bar one, with many options being left open to the performer and even to the accompanying group of turntable, laptop and electronics. The works are likely to be a shock to anyone with preconceived ideas about the instrument – just about every kind of extended technique is explored, the wacky accompaniments adding to the novelty.  The result, however, is highly engaging, though not, perhaps, quite as ‘new’ sounding as billed; the sound world is often reminiscent of Stockhausen or Ligeti’s electronic music of the late 50s.

Christian Morris


INTERNATIONAL RECORD REVIEW:

Christopher Redgate is rarely far from these pages, and his double CD Electrifying Oboe is also a tour de force while at the same time functioning as a self-contained, portable festival devoted to the instrument and new contexts within which it can operate.  The programme offers composition, improvisation, extended techniques, solo and ensemble performance, electronics and turntablism in an impressive selection of works with various collaborators and the wide-ranging excellence that results almost makes you wonder if Redgate has left himself with anything else to do(he will have of course).

Roger Thomas

Fanfare Magazine:

If all this wasn’t enough, music’s most forward-looking, technically mind-blowing oboist Christopher Redgate has recently released a double album titled Electrified Oboe, released on Metier. There’s a brace of works from both David Gorton & Christopher Fox; Fox is typically enigmatic, particularly in the curious & unsettling shifting regularity that underpins his work Headlong (for musette & square wave pulses), while Gorton’s Errinerungsspiel is really splendid, establishing a fascinating interplay between the soloist & live electronics; the drama in this latter piece is palpable, & its twists & turns yields more on repeated listenings. Edwin Roxburgh’s “…at the still point of the turning world…”, a piece i first encountered five years ago, continues to resist my attempts to get inside it, although its massive final tutti is as breathtaking as ever; Matthew Wright’s English Landscape Painting, on the other hand, is a superficial but rip-roaringly effective assault on the senses. Two works are performed twice on the album; in the case of Roger Redgate’s Concerto for Improvising Soloist and Two Ensembles, the differences are minimal—but the work is so amazingly exciting that it more than bears repeating—while Michael Young’s oboe_prosthesis, a piece heavily rooted in improvisation, positively benefits from dual interpretations. The first version features rapid figurations that are used to form a texture so dense that it feels impenetrable, & makes for a somewhat defeating listening experience; the second version couldn’t be more different: meditative, searching & rather beautiful. Anyone who’s ever heard Redgate’s playing knows how unbelievable it is, & throughout Electrified Oboe he demonstrates again & again why he’s the most celebrated oboist of our age.

 


Now Available: My first CD recording on the new oboe!

New Music for a New Oboe (vol. 1)          


New Music for a New Oboe (volume 1) Is now available it includes the premiere recordings of Edwin Roxburgh'sThe Well Tempered Oboe (oboe and piano) and Michael Finnissy's Âwâz-e Niyâz (oboe doubling lupophon and piano).

Reviews of New Music for a New Oboe:

Daily Classical Music.com

Christopher Redgate has spent the last three years working on the redesign of the oboe's key structure, with the result that a new instrument has been born, built in collaboration with the British oboe makers Howarth of London. The new instrument is the Howarth-Redgate 21st Century Oboe, and this CD,

the first volume of a planned series, introduces the instrument with music specially created by composers who have a particularly close association with Redgate and with exploratory music. As is immediately evident from that Aeolian Prelude, the first track of Edwin Roxburgh's The Well Tempered Oboe, this new instrument meets the demands not only of adventurous players, but also, as has been proven with long historical precedence, by the imaginative demands of composers. Technical developments in the nineteenth century transformed the instrument considerably to produce the modern oboe with which we have become familiar. This new Howarth-Redgate oboe not only expands the upper range of the instrument, but also introduces a new series of keys that facilitate the production of multiphonics and microtones,as well as further easing the production of features like flutter-tonguing and glissandi. The four movements of Roxburgh's piece are no simple showcase of gymnastics, but a carefully crafted work of sensitivity and consummate skill that are a just reward, not only for Redgate's three-year Research Fellowship at the Royal Academy of Music, but of his thirty years of exploration, collaboration with many composers and other notable performers (like Roxburgh himself), and a range of work as an eminent performer of music of all styles and periods. The composer Michael Finnissy shares this CD with a monumental work - almost an hour's duration -- called Âwâz-e Niyâz, which, in the language of Persia means Songs from Mysterious Necessity (or Prayerfulness), which draws much from the traditional music of the region and from the style of its presentation. Perhaps most remarkably, this enormous work is a series of sections that alternate between Redgate's new oboe, and a newly designed bass oboe called a Lupophon, with a range from low F at the bottom of the bass stave to a high B above the treble -- a wider range than either the usual bass oboe or the heckelphone, long a challenge to conductors of Elektra or Delius' Requiem. Finnissy is not only skilful in these seamless alternations, but so superbly inventive that the hour passes without undue stress. The third section returns to the Lupophon, illustrating its extended range and often menacing character, the changes from one instrument to the other neatly bridged with Finnissy's own expert keyboard playing, an equal partnership rather than accompaniment, which serves to change each dramatic scene. Exotic melisma explore the subtleties of its bending tones, while later there is a journey into this 'improved' oboe's highest regions. The research behind this remarkable CD is well rewarded by music that is as fascinating and challenging as it is revelatory.

Patric Standford

GRAMOPHONE:

Michael Finnissy's programme notes have a tendency to make the ache of writing music sound like a walk in the park. He tells us that Áwâz-e Niyâz, premiered in 2012, was inspired by the traditions of Persia; that his title translates as 'Songs from Mysterious Necessity'; that the practice of Persian improvised song mirrors his own compositional methodology of intuitively shunting archetypal melodic fragments around the staves. 'These fragments are then rendered specific in pitch and rhythm,' he says 'the outcome of which provides ongoing impetus and narrative.' None of which really tells us how he came to write this 55-minute odyssey for oboe (doubling lupophon) and piano. It has a ritualistic, meditative quality which reminds you that Finnissy mentions that 'niyâz' can also translate as 'prayerfulness', and that he is keen to stress his structure as 'impulsive'. During the opening minutes, with the oboe moving across melodic patterns like a Spirograph, lines jaywalking back through themselves, reels rather than clean-cut 'Western' phrasing, it's as if Finnissy is sending a postcard from a souk. And then suddenly you fall deep into his fantasy; melodic utterances push against structural constraints to yank open the space, you lose your place and realise how liberating that is, syntactical alignment between piano and oboe falls apart and intrigue mounts as you wonder just how Finnissy can reintroduce the oboe after a piano cadenza that feels entirely self-contained. Anyone fearing that 'New Music for a New Oboe' sounds uncomfortably like an instrument vendor's demo CD must think again. Christopher Redgate explains how he re-crafted the conventional oboe to fit with the demands of contemporary composition - and how he developed the lupophon, a bass oboe - but frankly, who'd care unless composers were interested in using it? True enough, Finnissy's piano-playing isn't captured with ideal clarity but the piece itself is a reminder of his mastery of scale. Details are telescoped in upon: room to breathe is what's required.  Áwâz-e Niyâz is a short piece that happens to run over 55 minutes. Edwin Roxburgh's soberer The Well Tempered Oboe gives Redgate plenty of technical substance to chew on; but the Finnissy obliges him to play beyond himself.

Philip Clark

CDs are available from me or from Divine Art Metier as well as all usual sources.