A nineteenth century critic described the oboe as “…an instrument that is more than even the English can stand indoors”, so spending a Saturday night listening to an ensemble led by an oboe might not appeal to many.
How wrong can that be? The Darwin Ensemble Chamber Orchestra’s wind section displayed mastery of Mozart and Dvorak in an evening which brought smiles to many faces in the enthusiastic Lichfield Cathedral audience.Leader George Caird, directed the ensemble through Mozart’s well known serenade for wind octet. The range of colours in the piece was remarkable given the small instrumental forces with the oboes and clarinets stealing the show. But it was the arrangements of Mozart’s operatic arias that fascinated most. Caird explained their origins as “the downloads of their day”. Mozart’s tunes were so popular that wind bands would arrange them so that they could be reproduced easily and used in other settings. They were charming and fun – not mere echoes of the arias but adding new textures and even humour. Dvorak’s serenade offered majestic melodies, a dream like minuet, the sweetest of oboe sounds and a sound portrait of modern life. Live music at its best.by Christopher Arnold