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The Central Coast Philharmonia

Heckelphone

This wonderfully expressive and uniquely exotic voice is simply the deepest member of the oboe family, essentially a bass oboe. The heckelphone is believed by some to be the result of a request by Richard Wagner to have a more playable and louder bass oboe that could compete in a large orchestra setting. Whether or not this was the inspiration for the creation of the instrument, Wagner did not survive its invention. It is often used in Holstıs The Planets (which requires a bass oboe) and was scored for in some pieces by Strauss, Hindemith, Percy Grainger, Paul Winter, and Aaron Copeland. The heckelphone has seen some recent action in motion-picture scoring and is continuing to gain in popularity. Bassoonist Arthur Grossman has released a solo album "Arthur Grossman Plays Heckelphone" featuring works for heckelphone and piano; this CD should be available at the concert. For more information about this cool instrument visit Grant Green's heckelphone page (www.contrabass.com), the Heckelphone society, or the website of its creator company (www.heckel.de). Several pieces on the Genesis program feature this king of oboes, and parts will be masterfully performed by Arthur Grossman.

Some technical stuff:
Heckelphone has all of the characteristics of the English Horn magnified. It has a bittersweet smoothness in the upper register and a dark and thick reedy presence in the lower register which is nothing at all like the bassoon, but more like a giant oboe (which it almost literally is). Orchestral uses of the heckelphone include balancing the oboe section with a like voice in a low register, adding to intensity of double reed effects, and of course it is a very characteristic solo voice. Heckelphone sounds in C and is written in treble clef, but it sounds an octave lower than written. The fingering is very similar to oboe fingering, but the heckelphone traditionally posses a low A. Agility is lessened by the size of the instrument, but it is capable of very clear articulation. Listen for it in the Violin Concerto, where it begins the movement and solos throughout.


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