Heinz Holliger is to the oboe what James Galway and Jean Pierre Rampal are to the flute, or Dennis Brain to the horn: the standard by which all else is compared. He is also an accomplished composer and conductor in his own right, two roles in which he has most often worked while recording for ECMas composer: Alexander Lonquich Robert Schumann/Heinz Holliger
(ECM, 2011); as composer and conductor: Heinz Holliger/Clara SchumannRomancendres
(ECM, 2008). The maestro does step out, from time to time, to play oboe and in a fit of Baroque nostalgia, does so on the uniformly excellent Ich hatte viel Bekummernis
, a collection of J.S. Bach oboe pieces from cantatas and concerti.
The opening/title piece is the Sinfonia, or instrumental interlude, of Bach's cantata "Ich hatte viel Bekummernis" ("I was Much Beset by Care"). Bach composed this cantata on the occasion of the death of one of Bach's pupils. Holliger dedicates the recording to his brother Erich, who recently passed away. Holliger's oboe tone possesses the emotional tension of intentional control. Musically, Holliger converses with violinist/conductor Erich Hobarth, whose tone echoes Holliger's own: plaintive acceptance in the face of great loss, while trying to achieve understanding.