The Bottom Line
Upon first listening to Britten and Bliss, I wasn't immediately drawn in. However, listening to Britten's Phantasy Quartet No. 2 and Bliss's Quintet for Oboe and Strings a second time through was such a delight. I've recently fallen in love with the warm timbre of the Oboe and have decided it's on my list of favorite instruments. Although the music is from the modern period, it's not far from the classical/romantic sound many of us so greatly appreciate, with the exception of Britten's Quartet No. 3. Overall, the music is edgy and intelligent, and the performers play with great conviction, clarity, and soul.
- I love Bliss's Quintet for Oboe and Strings and Britten's Phantasy Quartet No. 2
- Exceptional performance by the Vermeer Quartet
- Oboist, Alex Klein, plays with remarkable skill
- It's not something you would want to listen to everyday
- Britten's Quartet No. 3 is closer to the abstract
- Released: October 2006, Cedille Records
- 1 Disk, 9 Tracks
- Total Play Time: 62:08
Guide Review - Britten & Bliss
On this album are three works: Britten's Phantasy Quartet No. 2, Bliss's Quintet for Oboe and Strings, and Britten's String Quartet No. 3. Of the three works, Britten's Phantasy Quartet No. 2 is arguably the best work on the album, unfortunately it's only 13 minutes of the 62 minutes total. What I like about this piece is its modern, yet classical sound combining the oboe and strings. As the album progresses, it drifts closer and closer to the abstract sound of which I'm not very fond. Bliss's Quintet for Oboe and Strings dances on the edge of modernism, yet contains some really beautiful passages, while Britten's String Quartet No. 2 jumps right over the edge.
The Vermeer Quartet plays exceptionally well. (It's no wonder why, since the group has played in almost every major city in the world since their formation in 1969.) Apart from the music, the group's virtuosity is one of the first things you'll notice. Brazilian oboist, Alex Klein, began studying oboe at the age of nine and quickly began climbing the ranks, earning a position with one of Brazil's foremost chamber ensembles at the age of eleven. Since then, Klein has become internationally recognized for his superb skills and musicianship.