Oboist Vincent Boilard and the Quatuor Molinari unearth forgotten and often fascinating scores by Canadian composers.

In the booklet of his first disc, produced with the Molinari Quartet for ATMA, the Montreal Symphony Orchestra’s associate principal oboe Vincent Boilard quotes these words from his Hungarian colleague Lajoc Lencsés: “I want to record totally unknown pieces that sleep somewhere […] just to allow them to exist. They must be recorded so that we can listen to them and be interested in them. Without registration, these parts do not exist. If music only exists on paper, it dies. »

Boilard’s noble quest led him to the Canadian repertoire for string quartet and oboe, a formation that is far from roaming the streets. The musician nevertheless unearthed four scores by English-speaking composers from the same generation (they were born between 1942 and 1948): Stewart Grant, Elizabeth Raum, Michael Parker and Brian Cherney. All are still alive, with the exception of Parker, who disappeared in 2017.

Was it right, finally, to unearth these works composed between 1987 and 2000? The interest is growing as the disc progresses. The Serenata da Camera by conductor and oboist Stewart Grant, which opens the album, is relatively forgettable. It is understood that a serenade retains a rather light character, but the melodic and harmonic material is not of great interest.

We are already on another level with Searching for Sophia by the very prolific Elizabeth Raum, also a professional oboist. The idiom is still rather romantic, but the avowed oriental inspiration (the composer’s grandparents were Syrian) gives the three movements a particular flavor.

Also in three movements, Requiem parentibus, composed after the death of Michael Parker’s father, takes us completely elsewhere. The violist, whose career has essentially taken place in Newfoundland, deploys sumptuous harmonies there in an atmosphere often reminiscent of the Vienna School. The oboe is also much more integrated within the strings than in previous works.

In the Stillness of the Summer Wind by Brian Cherney, a professor at McGill University since the 1970s, succeeds in transporting us to another world with a remarkable economy of means.

Boilard and the Molinari play all this with admirable commitment and a control of the sound always adapted to the musical intentions.

The acoustics of the Saint-Augustin de Mirabel church are perhaps less appropriate for this kind of instrumental formation and repertoire, however, the marcato passages losing impact because of the reverberation.