Recognised as an international leader in the field of historical oboe performance Anthony Robson is a long-standing member of Yorkshire Baroque Soloists. As an orchestral musician, chamber musician and soloist he has appeared with leading period orchestras including the English Baroque Soloists, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and Collegium Musicum 90. His discography of solo performance includes complete recordings of oboe concerti of JS Bach and Albinoni which have received considerable critical acclaim.
We began naturally with JS Bach and asking Tony for his take on his work...
It’s the sheer genius of it all, in the case of the choral works it’s the
complete understanding of the text and how he picks the
instrumentation and thematic subject to suit. I also love his idiomatic
instrumental writing, he obviously had some sensational players at his
What do you most enjoy about performing in York?
Who wouldn’t enjoy performing in York? I’m a Yorkshireman born and
bred, it’s always nice to come home, and St Michael le Belfrey [where Yorkshire Baroque Soloists often perform] is the ideal venue for baroque music.
What is the hardest thing about performing?
I find that the most difficult thing is being too hard on oneself, when you
feel that you might not have delivered your best (it sometimes happens
we’re only human !) and you feel you have let your fellow musicians and
the composer down. The tiniest mishaps like a missed note can be so
devastating but one has to think of the bigger picture or it would become
impossible to survive. Having high standards can be so detrimental to
expression, you have to find a way to get through that barrier so that you
can really fly and express what you feel in your heart, what the
composer is trying to convey, and how you can get the audience in the
palm of your hand and take them on that journey.
Tony coaching York's Minster Minstrels at the NCEM as part of the
Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment Anthem project
Is there any piece of music or repertoire that haven’t had the opportunity to perform yet but would like to?
I always regret the fact that I never got to play the Swan Lake ballet of
Tchaikovsky, and it’s certainly too late now ! It was hearing the exquisite
solo at the start of the second act that led me to take up the oboe at the
age of 11. I remember telling my daughter my regret and her reply was
‘Oh Dad, that solo was made for you !’
When you’re not practising or performing, how else do you like to spend your time?
I like to come up to Yorkshire whenever I can and spend time with my
partner who lives near Haworth, luckily I get to do that a lot ! We enjoy
pootling about in Yorkshire and the Lake District and drink a lot of beer !
If you hadn’t become a musician, what other job would you have liked to do?
None, I simply can’t imagine ever having been anything but !
How do you mostly listen to music?
Well to be honest, I don’t much, I might occasionally think, ‘I haven’t
heard Mahler 4 in a while’ and pop on a CD but generally I don’t ‘take
my work home’ because it’s so inferior an experience than actually
Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?
I’d love to sit at table with Bach and Handel and find out if they got along
at all !
|Bach and Handel: Good dinner guests?|