“Oboe Music from the Big Ten”
With Aaron Hill, oboe; Marc Vallon, bassoon; and Christopher Taylor, piano.
Aaron Hill was recently appointed to the faculty of the University of Wisconsin-Madison Mead Witter School of Music, where he will teach oboe and perform with the Wingra Quintet. Prior to moving to Madison, he lived in Virginia for eight years, where he taught at the University of Virginia and James Madison University and also served as principal oboe of the Charlottesville Symphony and English horn of the Roanoke Symphony Orchestra. Hill has also performed with the Virginia, San Diego, Richmond, and Hartford Symphonies and the Rochester Philharmonic. He can be heard playing all of Franz Wilhelm Ferling’s 48 Famous Studies on his YouTube channel. Hill completed his undergraduate degree at the University of Michigan with Highest Honors and graduate degrees at the Yale University School of Music, where he was awarded the Thomas Nyfenger Memorial Prize for Outstanding Woodwind Performance. His major teachers include Nancy Ambrose King, Richard Killmer, and David Weiss.
Peaches at Midnight (2010) Theresa Martin (b. 1979)
Oboe Sonata (2014) Teddy Niedermaier (b. 1983)
Trio for Oboe, Bassoon, and Piano (2007) Daniel Black (b. 1979)
Program notes (from the composers):
One night at midnight my two-year-old son woke up and sweetly asked if he could have some peaches. Normally I would have said “no,” but the idea seemed so absurd and hilarious that I decided to allow him to come downstairs for a midnight snack. I even took a picture to commemorate the event. When sharing the story and picture with friends, the phrase “Peaches at Midnight” stuck with me and inspired me to write this piece.
The form of the piece is a “mirror” form, in which sections from the beginning return, but in the opposite order in which they first appeared. The beginning and the end suggest awakening and falling back asleep. The middle sections depict the joyful exuberance, creative imagination, energetic playfulness, and abrupt temperament changes of toddlers that make experiencing life with them so unpredictable and wonderful.
This Oboe Sonata was inspired by Eugene Izotov’s performance of the Strauss Oboe Concerto with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in May 2014. Dedicated to Mr. Izotov, this work unfolds in three movements, lasting a total of 17 minutes.
The first movement, “Moderate semplice—Allegro,” presents two main moods (or “characters”) that will remain central to the entire sonata. The opening is lyrical, plaintive, simple, filled with self-doubts; the subsequent allegro is inquisitive, dynamic, slightly disturbed. In a very loose sonata form, the first movement opens with an exposition and concludes with a combined development-recapitulation that revisits the exposition material in reverse order. Throughout the movement, the two characters converse and jostle; the outcome between them is undecided.
The second movement “Andante cantabile” further explores the lyrical character from the first movement. This songful andante begins with a piano solo in E-flat Major, written in homage to Strauss’s early Serenade in E-flat Major, Op. 7 (also performed by the Chicago Symphony on that 2014 concert with the Oboe Concerto).
The “Molto allegro” finale brings back the dynamic character from the first movement in full force. Textures are peppered with scurrying passages, outbursts, and march fragments. A few triumphant moments are quickly countered with more unstable material. The closing oboe fanfare draws the piece to a firm conclusion, ultimately deciding the victor between our two rival characters.
This Trio was composed during the summer and Fall of 2007. I began the piece while on break in California from my studies at the St. Petersburg Conservatory, and completed it in the fall back in Russia. I had received a request from some friends of mine who played oboe and bassoon: they were simply looking for something to play together. From the very earliest conceptual stages, I wanted to write “serious” music for this combination. Oboe and bassoon are both instruments capable of a very beautiful and wide range of expression, but chamber music written for them often chiefly takes advantage of the more quirky and comical aspects of the instruments’ nature. I posed myself the question: “What if Brahms had written a trio for this group, what would it sound like?”- and the first movement was my response to that question. There is something symphonic in the scope of this piece- it does include some music which is quirky and humorous (including a brief parody of the most famous composition for this combination- Francis Poulenc’s famous Trio), but I think it also covers quite a broad range of expression. The Trio is absolute music without any story, and I hope that it is touching and beautiful as well as quirky and fun. It was premiered by Jeffrey Stephenson, Rachael Young, and Chris Goddard in 2009 at Rice University in Houston.