"New Seasons is a project undertaken by oboist Albrecht Mayer to create "new" concertos for oboe, based primarily on the operas and oratorios of George Frideric Handel. He and arranger Andreas N. Tarkmann used arias, sometimes including bits of recitative, and gave the vocal lines to the oboe, flute, and bassoon without changing too much of the accompanimental parts to create a cycle of four concertos. Compared to Handel's original instrumental music, these are naturally more lyrical and sometimes more declamatory, but it is surprising how often the music is very dance-like. Lively, moving rhythms are not what is normally expected in vocal music, but it makes the arias used here very natural sounding as concerto movements…" ~AMG
Albrecht Mayer may be principal oboist for the prestigious Berlin Philharmonic, but he is also a very active soloist and recitalist not only on the oboe, but also on its relatives, the English horn and the oboe d'amore. Oboists of his caliber are rare, and with his lush tone, smooth control, and engaging expression it's easy to understand why he is a much sought-after musician.
It is a concert performance, given and broadcast in Vienna in 1979, with one result being reasonably good sound. Another result is that the performers seem to warm up as they go, really hitting their strides about halfway through. In the case of Plácido Domingo, that could have been because he learned the role over a weekend, filling in for an ailing member of the planned cast. He is nevertheless one of the drawing cards of this recording, as is the presence of the young Italian soprano Mara Zampieri as the romantic lead Elaisa; her sheer dynamic range, with a slashing, edgy fortissimo, is impressive, as was the late-'70s engineering that captured it for posterity.
Medieval Baebes and other far greater shocks to the bourgeoisie have come along. Wild adventures placed under the rubric of performances of Vivaldi's Four Seasons are commonplace. Yet Nigel Kennedy continues to roost atop the classical sales charts in Europe, and even to command a decent following in the U.S. despite a low American tolerance for British eccentricity. How does he do it? He has kept reinventing himself successfully. Perhaps he's the classical world's version of Madonna: he's possessed of both unerring commercial instincts and with enough of a sense of style to be able to dress them up as forms of rebellion. Inner Thoughts is a collection of slow movements – inner movements of famous concertos from Bach and Vivaldi to Brahms, Bruch, and Elgar. Actually, the only composer falling into the middle of that large chronological gap is Mendelssohn; Kennedy apparently needs a sort of otherworldly serenity for this project, which Baroque and post-Romantic slow movements may have, but Mozart does not. At any rate, this is no radical idea; it's a softball straight up the middle.