JONATHAN SMALL'S STRAUSS CONCERTO:
BBC RADIO 3's REVIEW
Sarah Devonald’s summary in selecting my recording of the Strauss:
“Strauss’ Oboe Concerto demands a lot of its players: the oboist must be at the top of their game, with an immaculate technique, a marathon runner’s stamina, a beautiful varied sound and the ability to subtly characterise this work of many moods, from carefree to poignant.
The orchestra needs a chamber sensibility, and has to be balanced so that the individual lines can shine through the texture.
Of all the fine recordings I’ve listened to, it’s those by Simon Fuchs and Jonathan Small, that tick all the boxes. Interestingly they’re both principals of their respective orchestras and it’s the partnership aspect that really tells.
Fuchs and the Zurich Tonhalle, under David Zinman, are given a particularly luminous balance, whereas Jonathan Small’s recording has a slightly veiled and grainy sound, that gives it additional human warmth.
And that’s the one I’m going for.
The RLPO together with conductor Gerard Schwarz form a perfect alliance with Jonathan Small, whose approach is, for me, uncomplicated and altogether musically authentic. It means that in the slow movement, if he makes the tiniest ritardando, he slows up for just a fraction of a second, it’s to heart-stopping effect. In short, nothing is overdone, while making the most of Strauss’ detailed score.”