An Ill Wind Nobody Blows Good
Monday, November 01, 2010 - 04:09 PM
No one seems exactly sure who turned that phrase about the oboe, but it does seem to have happened long before my assault on the instrument. When I was in grade school, my father wanted me to play the oboe. As a composer, he knew that good oboists were hard to find, and he was right. Trouble is, my joining the ranks of double reed players turned out to be part of the problem, not part of the solution.
Having blatted out oboe solos in Haydn's Symphony No. 97 and Handel's Water Music with my high school orchestra, and having done in acres of arundo donax (the special cane that oboe reeds are carved from) served to deepen my appreciation for really good oboists. The first time I heard Liang Wang as principal oboe of the Cincinnati Symphony, my head snapped around. I knew I was in the presence of greatness. I continue to enjoy his playing in his current job: principal oboe of the New York Philharmonic.
I've always been partial to the Mozart Oboe Quartet, and Liang says it was his uncle (who was also an oboist) doing the solo in Swan Lake that made him want to take up the instrument.
Do you have any favorite oboe moments, or oboists -- or do you come down in the "ill wind" camp?