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J. Lee Graham

Concerto in C for Oboe and Orchestra

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1.  Allegro (sonata form)

2.  Andante cantabile (sonata form)

3.  Vivace (rondo form)

Scoring:  Solo Oboe, Flute, 2 Oboes, 2 Bassoons, 2 Horns, Strings.

Composed March 13 - May 4, 2018.

The first considerable work I composed in 2018, this is a pretty standard Classical-style concerto, my second complete major work for solo instrument and orchestra.  I'd like to believe it's an attractive work that showcases the soloist well.  I consulted a classical oboist during and after working on this piece, and I was told that it was "considerably difficult, but not impossible" to play on the classical oboe, particularly the several high-Es I have called for, some of the passage work in the development section of the first movement, and the "frightful" series of descending chromatic trills I wrote in the middle of the second movement.  He also told me that some of the difficulty would be mitigated on the modern oboe, which should come as little surprise - the limitations of 18th Century instruments were what prompted instrument makers to "improve" them during the first half of the 19th Century.  Finally, he said that the writing was in a bravura style reminiscent of 18th Century French composers of oboe concerti, which I found interesting, because I was not familiar with any of the composers he mentioned.  At any rate, I wouldn't mind at all any feedback from oboists on the idiomatic qualities and difficulty of this piece, for future reference.  Any other feedback is naturally welcome as well.  I have provided a cadenza, but of course the soloist is welcome to compose his/her own. 

In the interest of full disclosure, since good composers borrow and great ones steal, I have appropriated four measures of music from Domenico Cimarosa (1749-1801) in the B theme of the Rondo (final movement).  

Enjoy!     

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Well done! Another brilliant piece from you. I too want to write an oboe concerto. Unfortunately, my flute teacher, who is a brilliant oboist, will be moving at the end of this month. I will not be able to give a finished project to her in person.

The many melodies of this piece are wonderful. I think, as a woodwind player, the difficulty lies in fast scales which are more difficult to produce a clear sound on the oboe because of the double reed. High notes are difficult to play controlled and even. The 'frightful' trills in the second movement are actually one of the best moments, but because the oboe has been trill keys, they are having to change fingers completely.

Thanks for sharing your music!

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Wow, what a beautiful and sophisticated piece this is! You have a great understanding in orchestral writing. I'm looking forward to more music by you! All the best,

Theo 😄

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It's so obviously accomplished and shows massive experience in the classical style, scoring, form and so on so I can't find anything to say - except you'll certainly get your money's worth with the oboist. And, d'you know what? It's so refreshing to listen to works like these.

Superb.

 

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Wow, thanks very much y'all!  I really appreciate the feedback. 

@aMusicComposer:  I wasn't aware that it was more difficult to produce a clear sound on a double-reed instrument in fast scales and passagework.  I'm a string player, yet I know how to write for the oboe in an ordinary orchestral setting, but I'll keep in mind what you've said the next time I write for oboe as a solo instrument.  In my Sinfonia Concertante, which included solo oboe, I didn't write nearly as much bravura material, and yet the player for whom I wrote it still had some trouble playing the piece on a classical oboe (which of course has much fewer keys than the modern oboe), and again, the one high-E I wrote for him he squawked in performance.  It's apparently a slightly more idiosyncratic instrument than I though, and I'll need to keep that in mind.  I'm always learning!    

A little bit of oboe history that concerns the upper limits of the instrument's range:  I didn't know this until recently, but Mozart wrote his Oboe Quartet for a virtuoso named Friedrich Ramm (1744-1813), whose claim to fame beyond his uncommon virtuosity was that he was the only known oboist in Europe who could play a high-F (above high-C).  Ramm had Mozart write a high-F for him to play in the last movement of the quartet so that ostensibly nobody else would be able to play the piece but him.  Of course, once the 19th Century improvements to the oboe had been made, this note became a lot easier to play, and the work is now a staple of the solo oboe repertoire.  But on the Classical Oboe, apparently anything above E-flat is risky.   

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