In 1984 the Finzi Trust held the second of its triennial Summer Festivals of English Music. With funds provided by the Southern Arts Association, Paul Patterson was commissioned to write a work for oboe and piano to be performed at Christ Church, Oxford, in a concert given by George Caird and Clifford Benson. The work that he wrote — DUOLOGUE — was an immediate success and has since been widely performed.
Paul Patterson’s style is highly approachable and in DUOLOGUE he has produced a work which combines drama with both lyricism and humour. It is a virtuoso showpiece for both instruments, extending over some 13 minutes and consists of three movements, the first and last of which are divided into two sections. The first movement, which also provides the material for the end of the work, is a spiky, toccata-like movement with irregular rythms in which both instruments go at it ‘hammer and tongs’ for the first 60 bars before a more gentle theme is introduced — but only briefly. The end of the first movement, or the Prelude to the ADAGIO second movement (whichever way you think of it), is marked RECITATIVE, where the two instruments take it in turns to utter dramatic statements ending with the oboe plaintively murmuring, using the highly effective device called ‘bisbigliando.
The Adagio is an eloquent slow movement in which the oboe is given the opportunity to demonstrate its lyrical power. This is followed by a Scherzando which begins with the opening notes from the beginning of the work. It is a fragmented movement where the silences are as important as the sounds and where almost pointillist precision is balanced by wistful, drooping phrases on the oboe reminiscent of some comedy music-hall act. Finally we return to the music of the opening, and without a let-up the relentless rhythm drives on to end.
Oboe and Piano
Commission: Finzi Trust for George Caird and Clifford Benson
Publisher: Universal Edition