Claire Balane, Oboe

Claire Balane and Dr. Janka Krajciova

Claire Balane, Oboe , In an Junior Recital March 13 | 1:30 PM · Westbrook Recital Hall

Claire is a junior oboe performance major originally from Appleton, WI. She began playing oboe at age eleven under the tutelage of Jennifer Bryan. Claire currently plays principal oboe with the UNL Symphony Orchestra, and often substitutes as assistant principal with Lincoln’s Symphony Orchestra alongside her professor, Dr. William McMullen. This recital is a culmination of ten years of oboe study, and includes standard repertoire for the instrument. It is a wide gamut of composers, from JS Bach to Richard Strauss.

Claire will be performing alongside Dr. Janka Krajciova, a recent graduate from the DMA program at UNL. Originally from Senica, Slovakia, Dr. Krajciova has performed in both solo and collaborative settings across the Midwest, Maryland, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic.

Program Notes: 

Sonata in G Minor BWV 1020

                  JS Bach (1685-1750)


Although this sonata is attributed to JS Bach, there is much debate among music scholars concerning who actually penned the work. In recent years, a small consensus has been reached stating that his son, Carl Philip Emanuel, actually wrote it while under JS Bach’s tutelage; however, its origin still remains unclear.

                  The sonata is in three movements: Allegro-Adagio-Allegro, with each movement taking on a unique flavor. The opening Allegro features a rich contrapuntal texture in G minor, with the opening motive returning in the relative major, Bb, in the B section of the work. The movement employs several call-and-repeat areas between the oboe and harpsichord, a motion that requires acrobatics from the harpsichordist as she must manipulate both the keys of the instrument as well as various stop mechanisms in order to achieve the same level of dynamic contrast as the oboist.

                  Adagio is a simple, tuneful movement in ABA form. The phrase lengths are extensive, and often do not start on beat one of the measure. This creates an effect of perpetual motion, which is supported by the harpsichord’s endless 16th note patter.

                  The finale Allegro is in binary form, with an allusion to the B material in the harpsichord’s opening motive. The two sections take on very different characters: the A section sits soundly in G minor, while the B section begins in Bb major before exploring different key areas. Between the two sections, a distinct rising third motive remains in common, seen in both the oboe and harpsichord parts.


Concerto for Oboe and Small Orchestra

Movement I: Allegro

Richard Strauss (1864-1949)


                  Written by Richard Strauss after World War II, Concerto for Oboe and Small Orchestra is one of his final works before his death in 1949. During the US Army’s occupation in Germany, a famous oboe player and teacher by the name of John de Lancie was able to visit and speak with Strauss. He is quoted as saying: “During one of my visits with Strauss, I asked him if, in view of the numerous beautiful, lyric solos for oboe in almost all of his works, he had ever considered writing a concerto for oboe. He answered ‘NO,’ and there was no more conversation on the subject. He later told a fellow musician friend of mine . . . that the idea had taken root as a result of that remark.”

                  The work today is considered second only to the Mozart oboe concerto in an oboe player’s list of standard repertoire, with de Lancie to thank for it. Its opening four minutes, the exposition, is no small feat. The passage has such long, uninterrupted phrases that it allows the oboist to breathe only four times before its conclusion. Passages of this nature require a technique called “circular breathing,” in which the player must inhale through the nose while still maintaining exhaled breath through the mouth.

                  After the exposition, Strauss begins a playful development, including active downward runs passed around the orchestra (piano) and soloist. This transitions into a lyrical, melancholy theme first seen in the piano which will also return in the coda. The recapitulation, or return of the exposition, is abbreviated but retains all of the important sections of the exposition, and leads into a very long coda which includes almost every motive heard in the movement up until that point.


Drei Romanzen

Robert Schumann (1810-1856)


                  Schumann’s Drei Romanzen, or Three Romances, is a set of song-like works that focus on the lyrical aspect of musical proficiency. That is to say, instead of being particularly difficult in the technical, fast note-playing aspect, they instead focus on the challenge of phrasing and shaping a melody. The work is published for either oboe, clarinet, or violin, although it was originally intended for oboe.

                  The first movement, Nicht Schnell, or “not fast” in English, begins with a sad, plaintive melody in A minor. The middle section speeds up some, as if attempting to break from the melancholic mood set by the first section, but ultimately returns back to this theme. The coda following the return of the opening theme is heavily chromatic, and makes for a very dramatic finish leading up to the final A, which starkly contrasts the music leading up to it due to its quiet, muted nature.

                  Eingfach, innig (“simply, heartfelt”) lives up to its name in being the most tender of the three movements. It is a true duet between the oboe and piano, as the two sing through the melodies with equal importance. Also in rounded binary form, (ABA’) the movement begins with a sweet A major melody, before dramatically shifting in the B section to an emotional, chromatic cry. The heavy accents and dynamic contrasts in the B section only make the return of the A more sweet, and the movement ends in the same quiet manner it began.

                  Also marked Nicht Schnell, the third movement is an archetype example of Schumann’s split personality writing. Like the previous movements, it is also in rounded binary form. The piano and oboe open in unison, and continue shaping the phrases as one instrument. This opening C minor melody is brooding and foreboding, ultimately giving way to a B section with more independent lines and a dreamy feel, typical of Schumann’s split personality compositions. The A section returns, and slowly fizzles out by way of a coda that unravels the piano and oboe lines, eventually releasing on a long, sustained A minor chord.


Solo de Concert

Emile Paladilhe (1844-1926)


                  Emile Paladilhe, a child prodigy on piano, was born in the South of France, but began studying at the Conservatoire in Paris at age ten. It is for this same conservatory that he penned Solo de Concert in 1898 for oboe and piano. Originally written to be a piece for the annual conservatory competition, the work is not musically dense, and shows off both the range and technical capacities of the oboe.

                  In the opening, Solo de Concert almost immediately reaches up to what, at the time it was written, was one of the highest notes capable on the instrument. This level of drama and intensity sets the tone for the entire first section of the work, before the piano takes over to introduce a playful and lyrical second section. Following two iterations of this 2/4 melody, intensity builds once again as the oboe plays several chromatic passages to build up to the final cadence, including fortissimo struck chords in the piano and a sky-high note on the oboe to create a most sassy ending for a melodramatic work.