The oboe is one of those persnickety instruments which, when not played just right, can inspire thoughts of either homicide or suicide, but which, in the hands of a true virtuoso, emits such a hauntingly pure sound that it takes your breath away. It also takes away the breath of the oboist, who basically has to have lungs of steel to play this notoriously difficult member of the woodwind family. The oboe's design is the culprit; it's comprised of three interlocking wooden tubes, each of which has its own intricate arrangement of keys that generate various pitches. The sound is created by forcing air into the tiny opening of a delicate double reed, one-tenth the thickness of a piece of paper. As Baltimore Symphony Orchestra principal oboe Katherine Needleman once politely observed, "There's only about a millimeter difference between sounding good and sounding like shit." Well, one oboist who never sounds like the latter is Allan Vogel, and this week, he and his virtuoso baroque ensemble Bach's Circle also featuring flutist Janice Tipton, violinist Elizabeth Baker, bassoonist Julie Feves, cellist Erika Duke-Kirkpatrick and harpsichordist Patricia Mabee celebrate 250 years of Georg Frideric Handel's legacy with a program of works for oboe, flute and other instruments by Handel, Vivaldi and Bach.
Tue., May 12, 8:30 p.m., 2009