As early as in 2016 Dimitri Mestdag played with the idea to combine baroque and minimalistic music. He was convinced the confrontation of Bach’s oeuvre with that of Glass and Reich would generate a surprising added value; he made a selection and chose percussion in addition to the oboes for the performance of the music. The confrontation of the music on the one hand and the instruments on the other yields an unknown rhythm and enchanting richness of sound.
At the outset the percussionists were Dimitri’s collegues of Antwerp Symphony Orchestra; when they left Belgium, As One joined in, a Flemish percussion duo.
In the mean time the repertoire has matured and developed: work of Koetsier, Tabakova and Brossé have enriched this production.
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Building an oboe is a time consuming and meticulous job. When playing, the drilled holes are manually closed by a padding. So there must be a perfect fit between each hole and its padding. The inner side of the wood is to be milled with utmost precision and polished subsequently. This production step is extremely fragile.
Except for regular quality control an auditive control is carried out by an oboist. In the case of Buffet Crampon it is done by Eric Speller.
Louise Van Eygen, pupil of Yf Bourry at the Conservatory of Kortrijk, has been playing the oboe since she was eleven years old. She decided on this choice when trying out several instruments after a children’s concert. Louise singled out the oboe because the sound pleased her and she found the reed interesting. She was immediately in love as she could produce sounds on the spot. The oboe will keep accompanying her in the future; if she wants to make it her profession, she doesn’t know yet. But she’s got the talent, that much is clear: she participated at the Concours Bellan in Paris last month, where she won the third prize.
The tessitura of the double bassoon, over the bassoon, the English horn, the oboe d’amore up to the oboe is comparable to that of the piano. The full spectrum of Astria Oboe Trio and HaftCraft is quite homogeneous because the instruments belong to the double reed family. This has been the fascinating basis for Arnold Kasar to arrange existing works for piano and adding new compositions. To do this, Arnold went to the Black Forest, his native region.
For his electronic music he almost exclusively falls back on sounds and software he has built himself. The result is alienating but establishes a link to the music of Henry Purcell, granting Shakespeare’s sonnets a astonishingly modern feeling, which makes them come captivatingly close.
“Re-writing existing music for an oboe instrumentation is difficult and certainly if you do so for a trio”, says Erik Desimpelaere, who has already arranged and composed a lot for Astria Oboe Trio. “You do need to take the lowest note of an oboe into account and in addition to this a trio only interprets three voices.” Erik considers this arrangement work as technical and creative at the same time: with the score at hand he studies possible combinations, problems and solutions and tries out alternatives on the piano. He is particularly proud of the Händel Variaties of Brahms. It ends with a 4-part fugue he has translated into 3 oboe voices. Ma Mère l’Oye of Ravel is another technical highlight: here the conversion was from two pianos to three oboes.
Dowlands Lachrimae was perfectly suited for Astria Oboe Trio and HaftCraft, but how to turn it into a contemporary production? The Estonian composer Tõnu Kõrvits was chosen, having already composed for double reed instruments before. His creative work resulted in 7 Driftwoord Songs for a double reed quintet and archlute in the middle part. Along with the arrangements of Erik Desimpelaere, who introduced pauses for the 5 wind instruments in the old Dowland songs, it is an unforgettably colourful and rich palette for each instrument on its own. The music in combination with the video art of Mark Raidpere made it an international production and took Astria Oboe Trio up to Tallinn.
Pupils either choose for oboe willingly, because they are fascinated by the instrument or by coincidence. Quite often they start at the age of seven, playing parts after one year already. The condition is however they exercise 20 to 30 minutes daily. In doing so they learn the correct blowing technique and develop the mouth muscles.
Oboe is rarely chosen as an instrument though because it is unknown. Astria Oboe Trio have wanted to do something about this from the outset, amongst other with arrangements.