Boughton’s interest in the oboe stemmed from the fact that his third daughter, Joy (1913–1963), had become one of this country’s outstanding soloists. She had been a pupil of Leon Goossens, and it was for her that Britten would write his Six Metamorphoses
after Ovid in 1961. Boughton celebrated her skills with two oboe concertos and two oboe quartets, plus a number of shorter works as encore pieces for her recitals. The Oboe Quartet No 1 was composed in March and April of 1932, Boughton recording in a letter dated 13 April that he had ‘just written a quartet for oboe and strings – small, sweet and Spring-like; with some of Spring’s sadness in it though’. It is as good a description as any of a delightful work: its first movement in sonata form, with fugal passages; its second a brief scherzo; and its third a set of six variations on a folk-like theme. Joy Boughton performed it on many occasions, though the date of the first performance has not been recorded.
from notes by Michael Hurd © 1997