Bret Pimentel, woodwinds
Kumiko Shimizu, piano
Department of Music
Delta State University College of Arts and Sciences
Recital Hall, Bologna Performing Arts Center
Monday, February 15, 2010
Sonate for oboe and piano
Paul Hindemith (1895-1963)
- Sehr langsam – Lebhaft
Sonata for clarinet and piano
Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990)
- Andantino – Vivace e leggerio
Rhapsody for bassoon
Willson Osborne (1906-1979)
Concerto for alto saxophone
Pierre Max Dubois (1930-1995)
- Lento espressivo – Allegro
Paul Hindemith wrote his Sonate for oboe and piano in 1938. In that year, he left his native Germany and settled briefly in Switzerland, in part due to increased scrutiny on his family because of his wife’s Jewish ancestry (he would emigrate to the U.S.A. two years later). The Sonate is a particular favorite of mine because of its no-nonsense approach to form—no time wasted on frivolous introductions or transitions here—and because the composer’s conscientiously idiomatic oboe writing reveals a deep affinity for the instrument.
Leonard Bernstein’s Sonata for clarinet and piano was his first published work, written without a commission in 1941-2 (the composer completed it at age 23). In an interview later in life, Bernstein expressed his affection for the piece despite a certain “student element.” The element to which Bernstein referred may, in fact, have been the strong influence of Hindemith, with whom Bernstein had come into contact as a student at the Tanglewood summer music program. This influence is most evident in the first movement; the second betrays Bernstein’s interest in jazz. The piece represents a true equal-partner collaboration between clarinet and piano, rather than clarinet solo with piano accompaniment.
Another of Hindemith’s American pupils was Willson Osborne. Osborne’s 1952 Rhapsody for bassoon is the most frequently performed of his works, few of which are well known. The Rhapsody’s copious expressive markings and frequent tempo and meter changes suggest that Osborne found standard musical notation somewhat rigid for his flowing musical lines.
Pierre Max Dubois wrote a number of works for the saxophone family, including this charming Concerto for alto saxophone in 1959. Fellow Frenchman Jean-Marie Londeix, who commissioned the piece, was apparently unhappy with the first movement’s opening solo section, and rewrote it to his own satisfaction. The composer approved the rewrite, and the piece was published in that revised form. The second and third movements are a sarabande (a very old, very sensual Spanish dance) and a lively, romping finale.