Expressing what the composer has called “widely varying, mercurial moods,” the oboe sings from one end of this work to the other. Its songs are seconded by a concertino group of four violas plus a percussionist, while the main orchestra (still chamber-sized) “opposes their flighty changes with a more regular series of ideas, usually on the serious side, sometimes bursting out dramatically”. Playing continuously, the piece broadly follows the usual fast-slow-fast pattern of concertos, with the soloist challenged in the “slow movement” by the trombone — but not for long before oboistic playfulness and expressivity win through. Paul Sacher commissioned the work for Heinz Holliger, who gave the first performances at the time of the composer’s eightieth birthday.
- Programme note by Paul Griffiths
This programme note can be reproduced free of charge in concert programmes with a credit to the author.