(click underlined movements to hear MP3 format sound clips)
Antares (1988): Paul Goodey (oboe), Sally Mays (piano)
Cantilena (1991): Paul Goodey (oboe), Sally Mays (piano)
Images (1967): Paul Goodey (oboe), Sally Mays (piano)
Elegy (1982): Paul Goodey (oboe), RNCM ensemble conducted by the composer
Aulodie (1977): Paul Goodey (oboe), Sally Mays (piano)
Paean - Hermes - Ariadne's Thread
Shadow Play (1984): Paul Goodey (oboe), Xiaodi Liu (oboe), Philip Haworth (cor anglais)
Silent Strings (2005): Paul Goodey (oboe), Sally Mays (piano)
Total Time 59:51
with full details of each track, and extensive information about the composer and about his use of multiphonics.
There are biographies of all the players and many photographs.
Introduction by Jeremy Polmear:
This CD is a collection of music by a single composer, mostly for a single combination of instruments (oboe and piano), yet the sheer variety of the music is immediately apparent. Most obviously perhaps, is the the use of multiphonics on the oboe, which are central to Shadow Play, are used extensively in most of the other pieces, but not at all in Aulodie or Cantilena. The harmonic and rhythmic complexity of the pieces also varies – from the virtuosic Antares to the touching simplicity of Cantilena. Furthermore, these pieces cover a period of nearly 40 years, yet there is no obvious trend of an evolving style during this period. What kind of composer is Edwin Roxburgh, really? What labels can we apply?
Roxburgh himself hates labels. For example, he says "I was never a serial composer. Serial composition is in any case just one way of expressing something; to add a label to it isn't really the point. And the 'neo-' label – why spend the time regenerating characteristics of the past? By all means borrow from the past, and also from the musical clichés which surround us in the present – embrace these things, but transform them into something of your own. As a composer, you need to add your own brick to the wall of the evolution of music."
A composer's creative process is notoriously hard to define, but Roxburgh puts it thus: "I start with the idea for a piece, and then I look for the vocabulary with which to express that idea. It's different for every composition; I'm looking at modes of harmony, of rhythm, of modulation that are going to be able to express that idea. And at physics, too; the physics of the oboe, and its chords, these can be part of the vocabulary, an exciting area to explore."
It is this willingness to define his artistic vocabulary afresh for the needs of each composition that gives authenticity to Edwin Roxburgh’s music, and perhaps explains the remark made by his teacher Nadia Boulanger that Edwin was 'the new Stravinsky'. It is also interesting to note that Roxburgh describes Schoenberg and Fauré as two of his musical 'grandparents'. Boulanger was a pupil of Fauré and another teacher was Luigi Dallapiccola, a pupil of Schoenberg.
We can also see evidence in this CD of the source of some of Edwin Roxburgh's ideas. People feature prominently, especially oboists. Elegy was written in memory of Janet Craxton (who can be heard on Oboe Classics CC2011). Its use of multiphonics would perhaps not have enthused its dedicatee ("I'm not Holliger", she told one composer); yet the quiet, warm, unselfish spirit of Janet the player and Janet the person pervades the piece.
Léon Goossens (available on Oboe Classics CC2005) is a source for two pieces here: Antares, written for Nicholas Daniel to play for his 90th birthday. And Aulodie, which was written ten years earlier for Goossens himself to perform. In this latter piece, the composer pays tribute to a player in an extraordinary way. Not only is the musical vocabulary one with which Goossens would have been familiar, but Roxburgh even includes the kinds of phrases and moods at which Goossens excelled.
External events are another impulse for Roxburgh. As he says, "sometimes I'm touched by an event. Composers can't affect politicians, but we can make a point for history. It can be a simple expression, as long as it's profound." Listening to the two tracks which comment on war, Cantilena and Silent Strings, we can hear much more than simple anger; perhaps this is because in each of these pieces Edwin Roxburgh has combined his aversion for an act with his respect for particular individuals – the composer Adrian Cruft; and the performers Paul Goodey and Sally Mays.
Paul Goodey studied at the Royal College of Music and at the University of California, Los Angeles. He then returned to the RCM where he completed his Doctorate. He has appeared as a soloist in the UK, Europe, the USA, Canada and India, has broadcast on BBC Radios 3 and 4, and played solos on TV soundtracks including broadcasts on BBC 2, Channel 4 and the Discovery Channel. Concerti include Heinz Holliger’s Siebengesang, Lutoslawski’s Double Concerto (including performances with the composer), and the Strauss and Mozart concertos. His solo CD New Ground, features seven premičre recordings and was rated ‘excellent’ by BBC Music Magazine.
He is the oboist with the contemporary chamber ensemble Sounds Positive, with whom he has given over fifty premičres at venues including the Royal Opera House, St. John’s Smith Square, The Warehouse and Colourscape Festival. With this group, he has worked with composers including Stephen Montague, Simon Bainbridge and Judith Weir. He also performs with rarescale, and this ensemble, formed by Carla Rees, has premičred over a hundred works since 2003. He continues to commission new work through his collaboration with leading composers and contemporary ensembles.
He is committed to education and has worked with a wide range of pupils ranging from those in infant schools through to conservatoire students. He has given numerous masterclasses and lecture recitals at junior and senior departments at conservatoires; and taught on many orchestral and summer courses. For eight years he was Head of Wind, Brass & Percussion at Trinity College of Music and a Council member of the Society for the Promotion of New Music. He is now the Head of Wind, Brass & Percussion at the Royal Northern College of Music.
Sally Mays is an international pianist, renowned for her playing of contemporary music, particularly that of her native Australia. She performs and broadcasts as a soloist and chamber musician throughout the world and returns annually to work in Australia.
She has had many works written for her and has made annual broadcasts for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation featuring these pieces. Composers who have written for her include Helen Gifford, Eric Gross, David Sutton Anderson, Geoffrey Grey and Gordon Carr. Her chamber music ensembles include Sounds Positive and LaVolta Trio. As well as performing with Paul Goodey, she plays duos with the clarinettist Linda Merrick, the saxophonist Melanie Henry, and the flautist Simon Desorgher.
She is a much sought-after teacher and examiner, and is also the editor of the five-volume series of graded Contemporary Australian Piano Music (Currency Press, Sydney) which has been described as 'the Australian Microcosmos', a reference to Bela Bartok's famous work. She is currently preparing more books of contemporary Australian piano music for more advanced performers.
She is also represented on CD by Continuum, Jade Records, Orientis, the Canberra School of Music (Anthology of Australian Music), and NMC's disc of piano compositions by Edwin Roxburgh.
Some of the tracks were recorded with the assistance of musicians from the Royal Northern College of Music.
Shadowplay (left) is played by Xiaodi Liu (oboe), Philip Haworth (cor anglais) with Paul Goodey (oboe).
On Elegy, Paul is accompanied by Benjamin Cottrell (live electronics), Carla Sousa (flute/alto flute), Lucy Rugman (clarinet), Jonathan Martindale (violin), Elinor Gow (cello), and Rosemary Toll (percussion); the conductor is Edwin Roxbugh.
Piers Burton-Page, International Record Review
"It is self-evident that the skill of oboist Paul Goodey and of pianist Sally Mays and the other performers is phenomenal. And the programme notes are fulsome." John France, MusicWeb International
"The high point of the Oboe Classics set is Shadow Play (1984) for two oboes and cor anglais, in which Roxburgh builds a counterpoint from overlaid multiphonics, and the choir of three oboists pursue a beautifully heard performance." Philip Clark, Gramophone
"Antares for oboe and piano is one of two pieces on this disc written to celebrate the playing of Léon Goossens. Contemporary techniques are intricately woven into the dialogue between oboe and piano, executed magnificently by both performers . Mays’ agile fingerwork combined with Goodey’s technical prowess make for a very fine performance." Jennifer Galloway, Double Reed News