Saturday, April 13, 2013

Noah Ryan's trusty oboe performance

        Noah Ryan, not to be confused with the famous pitcher, Nolan Ryan, performed twelve pieces of music on his trusty oboe. The recital took place in Capistrano Hall room 151, a small auditorium. During the performance only a few spotlights shone on the performers, leaving the rest of the room in mild darkness. One aspect I find interesting about classical music performances, particularly this one, is the quiet that comes over a room as the performer readies their instrument before they play. It was cool how the air would become so still for a few moments just before Ryan would began to perform. Then he would take a deep breath and bring the instrument to life.
Honestly, I missed the first movement of the concert. I only arrived a couple of minutes late but the doors were locked and I was not allowed in until the movement had finished. I would guess by the mood of the crowd that it was nothing spectacular, but managed to keep them alive and most likely awake as well.
Movement two, composed by Benjamin Britten, seemed less like music and more like sound effects. I found it more stimulating intellectually than musically, as its many pauses made it somewhat difficult to follow. Ryan would play anywhere from one to three measures of notes, then pause and take a breath. Pan and Phaeton, the first two pieces of the movement, were not quite as complex as the third piece, Bacchus. Bacchus followed the style of playing a series of notes then pausing, but before each pause would come feverishly fast and short solos, somewhat reminiscent of Chopin's piano work. This piece particularly reminded me of the taunting laughter of grammar-school age boys on the playground.
Movement three was composed by Robert Schumann. It was a nice duet with the oboe, of course, and a piano played by Sunny Knable. In all three pieces, the piano took a backseat to the oboe. Only two or three times was the piano allowed little mini-solos. I found this movement the most pleasant, as the music was upbeat and lighthearted, contributing to my mood. Nicht schnell featured some call and response, with the piano calling and the oboe responding, developing upon the piano's notes with a bit of a jazzy style.
Movement four was a quartet, which otherwise would have been a string quart had one violin not been replaced by the oboe. This movement really had an interesting sound. The oboe stood out very clearly, easily enunciating its rather sinister nature over the elegant string instruments. For many measures over the three pieces, the string instruments were plucked, reminding me of a person walking on the tips of their toes. Ryan seemed to be having more fun in this movement than in the others, smiling widely when it was over as he bowed to the applause.

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