The Sheffield Chamber Music Festival returned digitally with a mixture of live-streamed and pre-recorded concerts (including some fascinating 360º videos), all still available for free on demand until the end of May. For their live Friday lunchtime slot, we were treated to three 20th-century English composers’ contributions to the oboe chamber repertoire, all works written for, or dedicated to, Léon Goossens.
Goossens gave the first performance in 1930 of York Bowen’s Oboe Sonata, typical of his late-Romantic style. The opening movement flows from its graceful opening, and immediately Adrian Wilson’s bright yet supple tones were matched by warmth from Tim Horton on the piano.
There are darker harmonic exchanges and wilder surges in the development section, and Wilson and Horton luxuriated in the ebb and flow of this Debussian rhapsody.
The more meditative slow movement moves from Debussy into Fauré territory, with sliding, dark harmonies. Wilson’s control in the long phrases was highly impressive, and delicately placed rising scale runs led to a calmly resigned conclusion. In the finale’s playful romp, there was tight rapid articulation from Wilson, and jaunty lightness on display from both players.