I. Allegro vivace
II. Tranquillo
III. Allegro molto

The Phoenix Sonata is a condensed version for oboe and piano of Patterson’s Phoenix Concerto, which was commissioned by David Bowerman for Emily Pailthorpe. The world premiere was given by Emily Pailthorpe at the 2009 International Double Reed Society Conference in Birmingham.

Inspiration for the concerto is Phoenix, the bird of fire. This mythically beautiful and exotic creature has fuelled the legends of the Orient; soaring the skies with power and grace. The fire, passion and power of the Phoenix is very present in the outer movements of this piece, with the last movement filled with mesmerising dance rhythms. The oboe’s unparalleled ability to recreate the feel of exotic birdsong is showcased in the central slow movement.

The 15-minute work has 3 movements that run without a break fast-slow-fast. The opening sets off on its urgent trajectory with an active, forceful dialogue between soloist and piano that propels the argument, eventually building up to a wild cadenza which effectively dissipates the tensions which have accumulated up to this point. As the temperature lowers, the slow second movement takes over, with the oboe’s long, melismatic ariosi alternating with passages of a more recitative-like stasis. Once the movement has run its course, the piano breaks rebelliously into the proceedings and dragoons the oboe into the fast, breezy finale. Spirits stay high throughout, and a final whirlwind cadenza punctually and unceremoniously sets the seal on the work.

Celia Nicklin wrote “I was fortunate enough to hear Emily Pailthorpe give the world premiere of Paul Patterson’s Phoenix Concerto. I felt that a re-working of the piece for oboe and piano would give the work even more performance possibilities, and would be a welcome addition to the oboe repertoire. I suggested he might consider shortening the piece to a length to suit very many situations. Paul seemed delighted with this idea & the Phoenix Sonata was born. Oboists now have the option to perform the Phoenix as a sonata or as a concerto. We’re all thrilled – thank you Paul!”

Emily has subsequently recorded the Phoenix Concerto with the English Chamber Orchestra, (conductor Ben Wallfisch) for Champs Hill Records (CHRCD023)

a re-working of the
Phoenix Concerto

Video (Phoenix Concerto):



Written 2010

Oboe and Piano
Length 15′

Publisher: Joseph Weinberger

First Performance
Corsham Festival, 19th Oct 2013
Peter facer, oboe

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