And c’mon … you have got to be kidding me!

But as to the solos: the English horn is a seriously underrated instrument. It’s the viola of the double reed family (with oboe, bassoon, and contrabassoon being the violin, cello, and double bass, respectively). And like its stringed cousin, it seldom gets much respect, with precious little solo repertoire and lots of folks who don’t even know what it is. (Not helping: its name. It’s neither English nor a horn.)

Alex Klein: Twentieth Century Oboe Sonatas

Alex Klein on the Beauty of Petr Eben’s Oboe Sonata:

From the liner notes:

Personal Statement
Notes by Alex Klein
This is an album I’ve wanted to do all life: to go on the record (so to speak) with the pieces that are the meat and potatoes of oboe playing, plus a few more that are personally important to me. It is a pleasure and an honor to make such a musical statement. They are all part of my personal history of oboe playing, a history where I now have more years behind than in front. I find myself in the Eben, which is part of my youth. And like Poulenc when he wrote his Sonata, I too am facing mortality. The Saint-Saëns and the Poulenc are really the core of the oboe recital repertoire, but I’m also really in love with the other pieces here. The Bozza is wild and free and engaging. It runs from an incredible depth of musicality to torrid technical display. The Dutilleux is some of the most driven and energetic music that’s been written for the instrument. And the Bowen is such a delight; all three movements are right up there with best music an oboe player can play.

I have a certain nostalgia besides the one caused by age: focal dystonia brought a significant burden to my life and led me to rebuild my playing. Still, I don’t know how long I have left to play oboe. This recording has more to do with closing than anticipating ambitious projects for the future. This may well be one of my last oboe statements.

— Alex Klein