Ramón Ortega Quero’s baroque-period recital provided an interesting snapshot of where this young man is on the continuum of what ought to be a solid career.
More oboist than musician just now, he needs to really hunker down on why the notes are on the page ahead of what is required to make them sound overtly beautiful. If that so-elusive vein of substance joins his already considerable tone and technical skills, then surely an artist will emerge.
Not to belabour the point, here are five suggestions that might be considered for inclusion in the next To-do List.
- Choose tempi that underscore the content rather than revel in the notes-per-second ratio. (The opening “Vivace” from Nicolas Chédeville’s Sonata No. 6 in G Minor never really settled into its groove. Neither performer—harpsichordist Olga Watts was otherwise the model of support—was secure enough; the “Allegro” from Michel Blavet’s Sonata in B Minor suffered from too many notes, not enough phrases. When the phrases are fully realized, the “slips off the rails” will diminish accordingly.
- Reduce the amount of body sway. Re-arranging the centre of gravity while playing is an additional challenge that embouchures don’t need: misfires will lessen. As a corollary, when movements end—especially slower ones—try not to pull the oboe away and down until the last phrase has had a chance to settle into the consciousness of the audience. After a splendid diminuendo “looking” like the final note will cause it to subliminally linger longer in memory.
- Do vary the dynamics: Less is most certainly more. A carefully planned volume “plot” will entrance listeners, drawing them further into the music. (François Couperin’s “Allemande fugue” from Concert Royal—generally well-executed—had a sameness of volume that made it more “just so” than “aha!”)
- Deliver structural cadences as you might sum up a major point in a much-longer discussion (The first “Allegro” from J.S. Bach’s Sonata in E Minor was one example.) If the “busyness” prior to those important junctures is also conversational, then the music will magically have much more to say and further reward your labours and the audience’s attendance.
- Rehearse a few times in a way that you cannot see your accompanist: breath and ears alone should be employed to keep everything together. Recreating that sort of vrai ensemble during performance will have both the music and the crowd forever in your debt.