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Friday, January 8, 2021

Franz Krommer - Oboe Quintets & Quartets (Sarah Francis; Tagore String Trio)


Information

Composer: Franz Krommer
  • (01) Oboe Quintet in C major, P VII:12
  • (05) Oboe Quartet in F major, P IX:22
  • (08) Oboe Quartet in C major, P IX:21
  • (11) Oboe Quintet in E flat major, P VII:13

Sarah Francis, oboe
Tagore String Trio
Frances Mason, violin
Brian Schiele, viola
James Halsey, cello
&
Jonathan Barritt, viola

Date: 2005
Label: Regis

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Review

Sub-Mozart, maybe, but a welcome collection of this diverting music

Franz Krommer, as Frantisek Kramár styled himself in German-speaking lands, is quite well represented on record. These four pieces make an agreeable addition to the tally of a composer who speaks with talent the language that Mozart spoke with genius. The two quartets, which surfaced in the library of a Moravian castle only in the 1950s, are the lighter pair, though they have much charm and some nice strokes of wit. There are some nimbly Mozartian touches in the First Quartet, such as a final rondo with a suggestion of his Serenade for 13 Winds in the theme, and a pleasantly fresh opening movement with the slightly unusual marking Allegro aperto (used by Mozart for his Oboe Concerto). The Second Quartet is the more original and includes a clever first movement which has the oboe vying with the violin in what is not so much a duet as a duel, and a rondo with a nice little surprise to end with.

The quintets – these are the first recordings – are more substantial, especially in the first movements, and make inventive use of an accompanying quartet consisting of violin, two violas and cello. Mozart also found this an attractive combination when he wrote his horn quintet, and there is here in both works, perhaps above all in the beautiful Andante of the E flat Quintet, a sensitive response to the richer texture provided by two violas. It sets the oboe in a somewhat different tonal perspective, especially as the instrument’s higher register is generally favoured. Sarah Francis responds sensitively to the tonal subtleties in her attractive performances of music that falls very easily on the ear.

-- John Warrack, Gramophone

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Franz Krommer (27 November 1759 in Kamenice u Jihlavy – 8 January 1831 in Vienna) was a Czech violinist and composer of classical music. He was a violinist in the orchestra of the duke of Styria, and Maestro di Cappella for Duke Ignaz Fuchs, before succeeding Leopold Kozeluch as composer for the Imperial Court of Austria (from 1813 until his death in 1831). Krommer's output was prolific, with at least 300 published compositions in at least 110 opus numbers, including at least 9 symphonies, 70 string quartets, 15 string quintets, and many works for wind ensemble, for which he is best known today.

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Sarah Francis was born in London and started her career as principal oboe in the BBC Welsh Orchestra. She has broadcast regularly for the BBC since the age of 19 in recitals and concerto performances including the Proms, where she performed 'Ariadne', the concerto composed for her by Gordon Crosse. Francis has played all over the United Kingdom and frequently in the South Bank concert halls, and has toured and broadcast in Germany, Holland, Italy and Switzerland. Her solo recordings for Decca, Hyperion, Chandos, Unicorn-Kanchana and Naxos have been featured many times on Radio 3 and Classic FM.

***

The Tagore String Trio was formed in 1994. Its members include Frances Mason (violin), Brian Schiele (viola) and James Halsey (cello). The three musicians all studied at the Royal College of Music, where Frances Mason won the Tagore Gold Medal, hence the name of the ensemble.

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