Double Concertino for Oboe and Cello (2015)

Instrumentation: oboe solo, cello solo, 2 flutes (1st doubling on piccolo), 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, trumpet, horn, 2 percussionists. (xylophone, tom-tom, snare drum), strings.

First performed at Amherst College, Amherst, MA on 2 May 2015 as part of the Senior Concertofest.

James Yang, solo oboe
Daniel Ang, solo cello
Amherst Symphony Orchestra, Mark Swanson, cond.


Program Notes

In my Double Concertino, the solo cello and oboe argue and interact with each other spurred on by the orchestra’s incessant commentary in the background. This positioning of the two soloists was partially inspired by Richard Strauss’ Don Quixote, where the solo viola is the Sancho Panza to the solo cello’s Don. In my piece, the oboe acts as the cello’s more sensible colleague as the latter goes on improbable flights of fancy and meandering melancholy.

The piece begins with the two soloists in sincere dialogue with each other. The orchestra interrupts with bits of the “melancholic” theme, to which the cello is inevitably drawn. At first, the oboe plays along, but as it takes over the theme, the orchestra and the cello launch into a faster-paced section where lightness and warmth alternate against sarcasm and earthiness. In the middle “wandering” section, where the cello becomes lost, mesmerized by the enthralling siren calls of the woodwinds. Then follows a cadenza where the two soloists resume their earlier private conversation, now in sharp confrontation. The piccolo and percussion section interject, paving the way for the emotional climax of the piece, where cello’s melancholy is presented in its full beauty, with the piccolo throbbing in the background, shining relentless cynicism into this futile attempt to obtain the unattainable. In the final section, we are shocked back to fast-paced realism and the piece ends in a crude but powerful ultimate statement of the main theme, showing that optimism can be carved out of even the most rugged realities of life.