Michael Blake Watkins: Oboe Quartet
This quartet for oboe and string trio was commissioned by the BBC, for performance by Maurice Bourgue and members of the Gabrieli String Quartet.
Although the work is in one continuous movement, it falls into six clearly defined sections. The piece opens with a dramatic passage played in unison by the string trio. This statement precedes the first section’s main material, which is characterised by a strong rhythmic interplay between the oboe and strings. A quieter mood ensues, featuring a plaintive oboe, with its descending semi-tone glissandi. The rhythmic motif returns briefly before giving way to the second section for oboe solo. This transitional cadenza leads to the third section, a slower lyrical movement, concentrating on the more thematic aspects of the quartet material. A unison string passage leads to the fourth section, a fast movement with a scherzando quality. The fifth section, a second oboe cadenza, is interrupted by the closing section, a dramatic coda. This reintroduces, in varied form, the work’s opening rhythmic impetus and brings the piece to its resolute conclusion.
© Michael Blake Watkins