Today I was listening to the final round of the international oboe competition that was part of the annual Crusell Music Festival here in Uusikaupunki this year. It was held in the new Lutheran church in the town center and it was also broadcast on the Finnish national radio network YLE. There were four competitors who were chosen to the final round – Samuel Bastos from Portugal, Friederike Hulman from Germany, Ivan Kobylskiy from Russia and Philibert Perrine from France. There was just one piece which everyone of the four finalists had to perform (Mozart’s Oboe Concerto in C major KV 314). The concerto was accompanied by the excellent Finnish ensemble Jousia Ensemble (which, in my opinion, is one of the best Finnish ensembles ever – if every Finnish symphony orchestra would rehearse and perform with such high level of musicianship and energy as this ensemble does, the level of Finnish orchestral playing would be very much different than what it is now!)
I have to say that I enjoyed the whole thing a lot! Mr. Bastos started the evening strongly, with very nice tone and coloring in all the three movements of the concerto! I didn’t like his cadenzas too much, though (the finalists could perform the piece with their own cadenzas) – they were a little bit odd and dull in my opinion. I would also have liked more playing and joking with the different colors and moods and tones of the instrument, but nevertheless he played very nicely.
Mrs. (or Miss?) Hulman had a very royal, Classical-era tone in her playing – that tone would fit VERY well in the second movement of the concerto (as in almost all of Mozart’s slow pieces and movements, like Sarastro’s aria from the Magic Flute or Agnus Dei from the Coronation Mass). On a general level, though, her performance left me a bit cold. She was somehow distant and didn’t collaborate with the accompanying ensemble as much as I would have liked. Perhaps this was not her best day to perform, who knows? Her performance was not very lively or playful either. She had somehow better cadenzas than Mr. Bastos.
After the intermission Mr. Kobylskiy came to the stage. Man, I loved his performance! He had all that witty playfulness and jokeful attitude this piece needs! He also played with virtuosity and technical mastership! He just took the whole audience with him and did his job perfectly. I was very much delighted by his colorful and playful performance! OK, his tempi might have been somehow a bit too fast, but nevertheless he was great! And his cadenzas were the best in my opinion!
Mr. Perrine, who was the last performer, was a true musician in every sense. His performance was colorful, elegant, virtuosic, musical, of great mastery and technique through the entire concerto. He was on the stage like a gentleman, offering us a high level of musicianship, solid technique and elegant interpretation with very nice and fitting colors and moods that were just right for this piece. I would have liked more of Mr. Kobylskiy’s playfulness in his playing, but nevertheless it was great. I just liked his calm and easy phrasing through the entire piece! He just came to the stage and performed solidly, there was no extra show or unneeded sentimentality, just calm and beautiful interpretation of beautiful music. I could see that he had thought every note and phrase thoroughly during his practising (well, that’s what all serious classical musicians do when they practise)-
Needless to say, Mr. Perrine won the competition (source: http://crusell.fi/en/competitions/). And I understand the jury’s decision completely, although I would have chosen Mr. Kobylskiy just for his witty and playful attitude
Ít was a great and enjoyable evening. Thank God this music festival is annual and not too expensive, so I can have more opportunities to listen to good woodwind and brass music in my town of residence every summer