|Recordings to celebrate the world of the oboe|
THE BOOKLET CONTENTS AND SOUND CLIPS
(Click underlined movements to hear MP3 format sound clips.)
A work for unaccompanied oboe
The visual arts
2. Sources and Interpretations
The printed edition
The Krebs letter
CD tracks 1-6: George Caird's performance:
Pan (1:48), Phaeton (1:29), Niobe (2:26),
Bacchus (1:53), Narcissus (3:04), Arethusa (2:49)
CD track 7: The Diary Sketch (1:52)
CD tracks 8-29: Performances by George Caird
from the Composition Sketch and Fair Copy
CD tracks 30-35: Joy Boughton's 1952
performance: Pan (2:09), Phaeton (1:30),
Bacchus (2:02), Niobe (2:16),
Narcissus (2:26), Arethusa (2:53)
CD tracks 36-41: Nicholas Daniel:
Pan (2:20), Phaeton (1:20), Niobe (2:36),
Bacchus (1:38), Narcissus (3:12), Arethusa (2:42)
Total CD Time 59:39
The 52-page CD booklet (DVD-size) has a 20,000 word
programme note in English, including performance considerations for each movement.
Britten's compositional sketches are reproduced in the booklet.
There are many illustrations.
Nicholas Daniel's performance can also be seen on YouTube.
This link will take you to
Bacchus, but all six movements are there.
The sound and picture quality is OK, but the sound on the CD is much better!
This recording sets out to provide a complete overview of Benjamin Britten’s masterpiece for solo oboe, Six Metamorphoses after Ovid, Op 49. Not only is this work unique in the oboe repertoire but it is also one of the most distinctive examples of solo single-line instrumental writing from any age. It is hoped that performers, listeners, students and teachers will find it a useful resource for the understanding or preparation of such a wonderful work.
The Metamorphoses is, though, complex in vision and detail and there is much to discover about the work. From its enigmatic title and colourful movements to its remarkable instrumental writing and technical demands on the player, it holds a certain mystique and can even be baffling to understand. This recording has based itself on an investigation of the literary and artistic background that lies behind the work’s creation, at the primary written sources in its composition and to suggest the reasons for Britten’s interest in writing such a work. In addition, these notes will offer performance suggestions based on Britten’s own remarks on the work, views and performances of players from its dedicatee, Joy Boughton, onwards and the shared experience of teachers and aficionados.
My performances on this CD take all the original and subsequent evidence into account. They
do not aspire to be definitive in any way but they do seek to be as true to Britten’s
intentions as possible. Joy Boughton’s 1952 recording is an important source for all aspects
of interpretation, and other recordings by artists whose playing Britten knew, including
Sarah Francis, Janet Craxton and Heinz Holliger, are valuable sources. Evidence that
Britten was very keen on accuracy to what he wrote influences this interpretation, but there
is also an acceptance that Britten’s own views on the work may have changed over time as he
came into contact with performers. Perhaps most significantly, this recording presents for
the first time the sketch from Britten’s pocket diary in March 1951, most of the material
from his manuscript sources, and the original Boughton recording as a point of reference. To
complete this study of the work, a recent recording by Nicholas Daniel provides a third
performance for comparison.
After studying at the Royal Academy of Music and Cambridge University, George Caird
pursued a freelance career as an oboist which included orchestral playing, chamber music and
solo engagements. He worked with many of London’s major orchestras including the London
Philharmonic, BBC Symphony and City of London Sinfonia, and particularly as a member of The
Academy of St. Martin in the Fields from 1984 to 1991. He has also been a member of a number
of leading ensembles, notably as a founder-member of The Albion Ensemble and the George
Caird Oboe Quartet.
George has toured for the British Council in China, the Far East, India, Egypt, Tunisia and
Canada as well as performing in concerts and broadcasts in most European countries. He has
recorded for the Chandos, Nimbus, Hyperion, Meridian and Proudsound labels with solo and
chamber music repertoire. In November 2004 An English
Renaissance of quintets and quartets for oboe and strings was issued on the Oboe
Classics label. In 2007 the Albion Ensemble released its CD, Beethoven, Music for Wind
Ensemble for Somm Recordings. George was the director of Stage 96, a chamber music
course run by La Caixa de Pensiones in Catalonia, and in 1996 and 2007 he was a juror in the
Munich International Oboe Competition. George has also sat on adjudication panels for BBC
Young Musician of the Year, the Audi Junior Musician, the Shell-LSO Competition, the YCAT
awards and the Chamber Music Competition for Schools.
George has performed all of Britten's Oboe music extensively, including broadcasts of the
Temporal Variations and the Metamorphoses after Ovid for BBC Radio 3. He has
performed the Metamorphoses over 60 times.
George has been involved in many areas of music education: teaching, devising educational
programmes, coaching chamber ensembles, conducting and coaching youth orchestras and as a
founding member of the British Double Reed Society. He is a member of the Executive
Committee of the International Double Reed Society and will host the 2009 IDRS Conference
He was appointed as a professor of oboe at the Royal Academy of Music in 1984 where he
became Head of Woodwind in 1987 and Head of Orchestral Studies in 1991. Since September
1993, George has been Principal of Birmingham Conservatoire.
George is a board member of Symphony Hall and Culture West Midlands. In 2004 he joined the
Board of Youth Music, and was the President of the Incorporated Society of Musicians for
2004/5. He chaired the Learning and Skills Council Music Review for Birmingham and Solihull
2003/4 and was elected Secretary-General of the Association of European Conservatoires in
November 2004. Since November 2005 he has been Chair of the National Association of Youth
Orchestras. In January 2006 he joined the Advisory Group for the Department of Education
and Skills Music and Dance Scheme.
Joy Boughton (1913-63) was the daughter of the composer Rutland
Boughton. She had oboe lessons with Léon Goossens, and while still at the Royal College of
Music began playing with the Boyd Neel Chamber Orchestra. In 1935 she gave the first of many
BBC broadcasts as a soloist, and in 1937 gave the first performance (with the Boyd Neel Strings) of the concerto her father had
written for her.
During World War II she played with the Sylvan Trio and the London Harpsichord Ensemble,
and joined the newly-formed English Opera Group for the first Aldburgh Festival in 1948. She
performed in eleven festivals, and also toured and gave London performances with the Group.
She was an active freelance oboist, playing also with the Jacques Orchestra, the Brighton
Philharmonic, and the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.
Joy Boughton taught at the Royal College of Music, and was an influence on many younger
players, including Sarah Francis and Neil Black.
Nicholas Daniel's long and distinguished career began when, at the age of 18,
he won the BBC Young Musician of the Year Competition and went on to win further
competitions in Europe. At his debut at the BBC Proms in 1992 the Sunday Times described him
as one of the greatest exponents of the oboe in the world. Today one of the UK's most
distinguished soloists as well as an increasingly successful conductor, he has become an
important ambassador for music and musicians in many different fields.
Nicholas has been heard on every continent, and has been a concerto soloist with many of the
world’s leading orchestras and conductors, working with conductors such as Sakari Oramo,
Sir Roger Norrington, Oliver Knussen, Richard Hickox and Sir Peter Maxwell Davies. He is an
important force in the creation and performance of new repertoire for oboe, and has
premièred works by composers including Sir Harrison Birtwistle, Henri Dutilleux, Thea
Musgrave, Nigel Osborne, John Tavener and Sir Michael Tippett.
An active chamber musician, Nicholas is a founder member of the Haffner Wind Ensemble and
the Britten Oboe Quartet, and enjoys a long history of collaboration with the pianist Julius
Drake and the Maggini and Lindsay string quartets. As a conductor, Nicholas has worked with
orchestras in the UK and abroad, and is Associate Artistic Director of the Britten Sinfonia,
with whom he made his Proms conducting debut in 2004. He is also Artistic Director of the
Leicester International Festival, and teaches in the UK and in Germany, where is he Professor of Oboe at the Musikhochschule,
"The booklet is a major production that surely sets the standard for any future venture of this order.
"Three excellent performances of this work - two contemporary and one historical, the first broadcast performance - are showcased here. I am not going to express a preference for any particular version - suffice it to say that all three are essential for an in-depth appreciation of this great work.
"... it is a major reference document that needs to be regarded as an important contribution to Britten studies."
John France, MusicWeb International.
"This excellent CD and booklet will be of use to anyone interested in the Metamorphoses.
George Caird's meticulous research... takes the booklet far beyond liner notes usually provided...
"Boughton's 1952 performance... is spirited and highly successful... Caird's and Daniel's
quality performances are new, digital versions. The three interestingly conjure very
different worlds, ...and it is extremely useful to have them side by side.
"This CD will be invaluable in producing a new generation of informed yet crucially
individual performances of this ever-fascinating work." Julia White, Double Reed news (UK)
This CD was shortlisted for the Royal Philharmonic Society Music Awards 2008.
"You have done it again; the newly released CD on the history of
Britten's Metamorphoses is wonderful!! Specifically, to hear a legend like Joy
Boughton is worth the price of the disk. Keep the great work coming!" Brent Hages,
"Thanks for the very great Britten recording. I think this is one of the most masterly
presentations I have seen and heartiest congratulations are due to you for publishing it."
Geoffrey Bridge, Meigle, UK
"The Britten is worth it for the booklet alone, and how interesting to hear Joy Boughton's
recording. I'm learning to play the oboe myself and have just started looking at Pan;
it has really helped to have so much background and further ideas for interpretation."
Nina Jarman, Huddersfield, UK
"A very attractive package indeed... Congratulations on a major undertaking realized most
impressively. Ed Craig, Baltimore, USA
"The whole thing, recording and booklet, is very well put together, and with a very striking
cover as well. Congratulations to George and to everyone at Oboe Classics on a brilliant job."
Dr Nicholas Clark, The Britten–Pears Library, Aldburgh, UK
"Please forward my congratulations to George Caird and thank him for his work on the
Britten. It is not just a tossed off bagatelle; it will be a reference work for a long time.
I shall recommend it to my colleagues."Stevens Hewitt, USA, who has written his own
commentary on the Metamorphoses. He can be contacted at
"... meanwhile I continue to derive much pleasure from your previous issues - especially the Britten compilation, which is superb." Raymond Monk, Leicester, UK