Sunday, March 20, 2011

Loboe Potential in Bach's "Magnificat"

 Not every orchestra has the luxury of owning an extended range of auxiliary instruments, especially when it comes to the double-reed families. When the need for two oboe d'amores arose in our orchestra's performance of Bach's Magnificat last week, we faced the unique dilemma of being unable to find more than one working and available instrument within South Africa. While it is always preferable to perform works with the intended instrumentation, practicality and financial issues seemed to dictate the use of English horns over shipping instruments from Europe. However, it was interesting being able to offer the conductor the alternative of performing Mvt. III, "Quia respexit humilitatem", on oboe as well as English horn.  An oboe transposition of the oboe d'amore solo line is actually provided in the part, but because of the one instance where the music reaches the "A" below the staff, the register has to be shifted up, thus breaking the original flow. English horn of course provides a closer color in terms of sound, but the transposition, while quite doable, sits very high on the instrument and frequently extends to the written "E" above the staff. For the Loboe, the solo line fits very comfortably on the instrument.  It is attaca from Mvt. III to Mvt. IV and there are no register shifts for the English Horn II; this part could also conceivably be performed on a non-extended range oboe.

While this is a very specific instance, it is refreshing to know that should an orchestra find itself faced with a lack of oboe d'amores, the Loboe can offer an additional auditory solution for consideration.