The Oboe Concerto of Vincenzo Bellini is numbered among the works of his student days along with much church music and several symphonies. The symphonies were but in name since at the time of their composition (the early 1820s) Beethoven was virtually unknown in Italy and Bellini was to hear the great master’s symphonies only years later, in Paris. Since Bellini’s fame rests on his operatic works, such early pieces as the Oboe Concerto could easily have been overlooked were it not for their attraction. The Sicilian composer was no pioneer, but he had made a close study of the chamber music of Haydn and Mozart and learned much from it.
The stately opening of Bellini’s E flat Concerto leads to an aria-like oboe line of the type that was to influence Chopin in the lyrical expansion of his own instrumental melodies. The orchestral sections carry Viennese echoes, but the overall spirit of the work is undoubtedly Italian. Bellini’s juxtaposition of lyrical and more rigorous passages gives the little work an expertly managed inner balance.
from notes by Peter Lamb © 1999