The Concerto No. 2 for Oboe and Strings was composed during the fall and winter of 1999-2000 in Hampton, Virginia for Rolanda L. Allison. The three movements are to be performed attacca.
Program notes by the composer are provided below.
I composed the Concerto No. 2 for Oboe and Strings as a result of an initial challenge by my good friend and colleague Rolanda L. Allison, who is the Assistant Concertmaster of the Fayetteville Symphony. The routine challenge by Ms. Allison was a request that I compose music in a “romantic” style—something for oboe (or english horn) and strings. The implication, of course, was that I should stay away from the avant-garde in my composing. As I thought about her challenge, I put up an immediate defense—after all, I did not consider my music to be avant-garde in any way!
Nevertheless, I began composing the music in earnest in late October, 1999—after a conversation with my good friend and colleague David Kunkel, Music Director of the Virginia Beach Symphony Orchestra at an afterglow dinner at Rigatoni’s in August 1999. Mr. Kunkel and I had a conversation about the new music that I was composing, and I mentioned my Piano Sonata No. 1 and the Concerto No. 2 for Oboe and Strings. I envisioned that the concerto would have a general length of 15 minutes, and there were sketches of ideas to be used in the work, but there was no completed music as yet. I learned during our talk that Mr. Kunkel was interested in conducting a world premiere of the Concerto No. 2 for Oboe and Strings during the 20th Anniversary season of the VBSO (now known as Symphonicity). And so, I felt that I had been given an additional challenge—to complete the concerto fairly quickly as well as provide a “romantic” style suggested by Ms. Allison. Almost immediately after this conversation with Mr. Kunkel, I began work in earnest on the Concerto No. 2 for Oboe and Strings and completed it on 27 March 2000.
Now the broad concept behind the Concerto No. 2 for Oboe and Strings is to articulate many of the general gestures of the classic/romantic concerto, but in shorter, neomodern strokes—even to the point of presenting short cadenzas in each movement. The three movements are performed without pause as well. The first movement is very pastoral, and features two chromatic themes in a truncated sonata form—no development or traditional recapitulation is presented. Movement two follows thereafter, and is monothematic; the ternary structure is articulated entirely by a large-scale mediant relation. The concluding Rondo movement—in contrast to the initial movements—is very quick and snappy, and is remniscient of much 20th-century neoclassic music.
Harvey J. Stokes
Duration of movements:
I. Moderato assai: ca. 5’ 24”
II. Largo: ca. 5’ 43”
III. Allegro: ca. 4’ 23”
Total Duration: ca. 15′ 30″
This work is published by Seesaw/Subito Music of Verona, New Jersey.
Instrumentation: Solo Oboe, Violin I, Violin II, Viola, Violoncello, Double Bass.
Performed 4/28/01 in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina by Harvey Stokes, oboe and the Virginia Beach Symphony, with David Kunkel as conductor.
Performed 4/29/01 in Virginia Beach, Va. by Harvey Stokes, oboe and the Virginia Beach Symphony, with David Kunkel as conductor.
Performed 10/21/06 in Williamsburg, Va. by Harvey Stokes, oboe and the Tidewater Intergenerational Orchestra, with Ulysses Kirksey as conductor.
The orchestra changed those moods and tempi transparently, offering the pure music for the delectation of the audience. Even the 2/4 and 4/4 passages from Strauss (the “Waltz King”) sounded like 3/4-time waltzes, which no one can resist.
He continued with some short melodic phrases, which were answered in variations by the strings, against which he then played counterpoint. The second and third movements encompassed haunting and lively sections evoking, for this listener, dreams of dancing sprites (and not the British sports cars, although that would work, too).