Domenico Cimarosa, born in 1749, enjoyed a contemporary reputation particularly in the field of Italian comic opera. In 1942 the Australian-born composer Arthur Benjamin was able to draw on Cimarosa's keyboard sonatas to provide an attractive oboe concerto, a work that broadly follows late Baroque rather than classical practice, although Cimarosa himself was at the height of his reputation towards the end of the eighteenth century. A moving Introduzione leads to a sprightly Allegro and a Siciliana, the gentle Baroque pastoral dance, as a slow movement. The finalAllegro giusto makes a cheerful conclusion.
Vincenzo Bellini is better known as a composer of operas than of instrumental works. He won his first significant operatic success in 1827 with his third opera, II pirata. Seven more operas were to follow before his death in Paris in 1835 at the age of 33. His delightful Oboe Concerto in E flat major was written, as were his other orchestral works, before 1825, while he was still a student at the Naples Conservatory. The solo instrument enters after the shortest of dramatic introductions with a melody of operatic suggestion, a foretaste of Bellini's later lyrical achievement. The aria leads directly to a lively conclusion, dominated by its lively principal theme, which frames a series of contrasting episodes.
The so-called Idomeneus-Concerto takes its name from the accident that it was written to provide additional music for a staging in 1806 at the Royal National Theatre in Berlin of Mozart's opera Idomeneo, Re di Creta. For the occasion there were inserted numbers by Paer, Bernhard Anselm Weber and Vincenzo Righini, the last the Kapellmeister of the Berlin theatre since 1793. The Berlin Italian opera was closed in 1806 as a result of the war, but opened again, under Righini, in 1811. Righini's concerto was added to the first movement chorus of Idomeneo, Godiam la pace, a very relevant sentiment in the prevailing circumstances. The work has survived in a Berlin copy of the performing score of Idomeneo. The soloist in the little concerto in Berlin was the oboist of the Berlin Royal Orchestra, Friedrich Westenho1z, whose playing was much admired.
The name of Federigo Fiorillo is all too well known to violinists, nurtured still on his 36 Caprices for their instrument. Born in Brunswick in 1755, the son of an Italian opera composer, he made his earlier career as a player of the mandolin, before adding performance on the violin to his range of concert activity which took him to St Petersburg, to Paris and for three years to Riga as music director. He served as violist in salomon's quartet in London, where he moved in 1788, and played in the Haydn concerts during the latter's first London visit, but seems to have retired relatively early from concert performance. His death, probably in London, occurred some time after 1823, when he is said to have visited Paris. A prolific composer, he wrote a number of orchestral works for groups of solo instruments, including the present Sinfonia Concertante for two oboes. This opens in true classical style, before the entry of the solo instruments, and continues to allow the solo instruments the necessary prominence in movements rich enough in melodic invention, charm and interest.
Sir John Barbirolli, legendary conductor of the Manchester Halle Orchestra from 1943 and conductor laureate for life from 1968, in 1939 married the oboist Evelyn Rothwell. It is to this that we owe the two concertos for oboe, arranged by Barbirolli from work by Corelli and by Pergolesi. The first of these is based on movements by Corelli, the violinist-composer who, more than any other musician of his time, established the form of the Baroque concerto grosso, solo violin sonata and trio sonata, a model for later composers. The arranged work is in the form of a concerto da camera, a set of dance movements, preceded by a Preludio. The pattern chosen follows that often favoured by Corelli, with a relatively lively Allemanda and a slow sarabanda, in which Barbirolli's own instrument, the cello, has its own statement to make. The concerto ends with a Gavotte and a final Giga.
Giovanni Battista Pergolesi was born in 1710 and died in 1736 at the age of twenty-six. The shortness of his life and the posthumous popularity of his music led to a host of attributions, as others sought to make use of his name. Prompted by Dyagilev, Stravinsky made use of music attributed to Pergolesi but much of it by other composers in his ballet Pulcinella, from which came his later Suite Italienne. Barbirolli similarly derived from music credited to Pergolesi a four-movement concerto for oboe very much in the style of the earlier eighteenth century .Of the material used, the thematic basis of the third movement Andantino will be particularly familiar to singers, although it is now attributed to other composers, contemporary with Pergolesi.