Jan 13, 2023

Held produces first-ever album dedicated to the Viennese Oboe

Sebastian Breit performs on Viennese oboe, accompanied by Stephanie Timoschek-Gumpinger at Baumgartner Casino in Vienna.

The Viennese oboe is a piece of living history, and its use is limited exclusively to Vienna, Austria. This unique instrument is a predecessor to the modern oboe and is different in construction, fingerings and sound. As a result, the Viennese oboe is significant to the world-wide oboe community for its historical performance practice insights on important repertoire ranging from Mozart to Mahler. However, there are no professional recordings of this instrument in a solo setting and opportunities to hear the Viennese oboe are rare and difficult to access.

Supported by an international research grant from the Office of International Affairs and a Dean's Discretionary Award from the College of Arts and Sciences, Abby Yeakle Held, lecturer of oboe in the School of Music, traveled to Vienna to produce a Viennese oboe recording in 2022 – a truly historic undertaking.

Held's Viennese oboe recording project will remedy the current void in oboe research and will create the first-ever resource to hear this unique instrument in an intimate setting. The resulting CD and videos on YouTube will be easily accessible to an international community of musicians and scholars.

As the project producer, Held organized a team of artists, audio engineers and videographers for two recording sessions at the Casino Baumgarten – a sought after venue known for its beautiful ceiling, natural light and names of famous composers above each window. During the sessions Held followed along in the musical score and provided feedback between takes to to ensure the artists achieved the highest quality performance.

Three sonatas (Gál, Wunderer and Pilss) and one trio (Bednarik) were recorded. Each piece was written by or for a Viennese oboist. The recording features Sebastian Breit, a Viennese oboist and principal oboist with the Vienna Philharmonic and State Opera Orchestra, and his collaborative pianist Stephanie Timoschek-Gumpinger, a member of the piano faculty at die Universität für Musik und darstellende Kunst, Wien. For the trio, Breit was joined by two other Viennese oboists, Josef Bednarik (principal oboe, Volksoper) and Wolfgang Plank (second oboe/English Horn, Vienna Philharmonic and State Opera Orchestra).

Held will finalize publishing with a label, publish the videos on Youtube and promote the album with events in Vienna in 2023.