Like the great monologues in dramatic literature for an actor the monodian in music are the great challenge for musicians. They demand power of creation and capability without any supporting by piano or orchestra – to transfix the auditory. They often belong to the most balanced works of composers because of their purity and simplicity they remind of a drawing, in which only one line is able to interpret he riches of a face. The choice of composition of the 20th century shall demonstrate simultaneously the riches of color and the scale of expression of oboe families.
Britten’s “Six Metamorphoses after Ovid” is the popular suite for oboe solo. Their piece at the same time is the story of the birth of the wing instruments flute of oboe. Pan – the god of shepherds – catches sight of the bathing nymph near the river and wants to embrace her, but the escaping girl is changed in reed by the gods. Pan’s sigh at the cutted bundled up blades causes the fist melody with Pan-Flute. The second metamorphosis with their rhythmical begin tells the horse ride of the sun carriage belonging to god Phoebus, who gave his son the permission to guidance the sun for one day. But Phaeton falls and becomes a comet. The third metamorphosis is dedicated to Bacchus and his adherents who – because of the wine like a metamorphosis – are dancing intoxicating and praising their god. Narcissus in the fifth metamorphosis is falling in love with his own mirror image in the water which is changing into a flower. The last metamorphosis is the one of Arethusa who in order to escape Alpheus changed into a spring, during Alpheus assumed the shape of a river now being able to flow through his love.
Britten composed these wonderful pieces 1953 for the English oboe player Janet Craxton.
The Kernel Sometime is an in classical sense conceived four movement sonata miniature. The individual movements are four very different portraits, in which the dynamic gradations effectively support the striking and sensitive melodic contrast.
Koechlin’s suite for English horn takes special position because of the extent and problematic nature. It’s actually the longest solo piece in the oboe literature. It was composed after a novel by Georg And “les maitres sonneurs” (like a master sound) whose central figure is a boy, who on the one hand is a genius bagpipe-player – on the other hand is mentally handicapped.