ARIAS for oboe and piano was written at the request of the oboist Robin Canter in 1977 and received its first performance at the Purcell Room in 1978 when it was played by Robin Canter and Elisabeth Routier.
It is a short piece basically lyrical in character, and falls into five clearly defined sections. The opening duo presents the basic musical material and is followed by an oboe solo which plays on the opening idea; this leads into a central duo which develops the initial ideas more fully, and being palindromic, forms an arch-shape. A piano solo follows this, being another miniature movement which grows from the opening intervals, and this gradually transforms itself into a closing passage reminiscent of tolling bells; as the piano's steadily progressing chords reduce from six to three notes, the oboe echoes its partner, finally dying away to silence.
© Robert Saxton