Six Metamorphoses after Ovid, Op. 49
In this masterclass, Professor Céline Moinet, and student Clément Le Têtu take on a new challenge of playing Benjamin Britten’s Metamorphoses after Ovid, a piece for solo oboe written in 1951.
Firstly, Moinet instructs Clément to ‘incarnate Pan’ in order to embody the music and bring it to life. What’s more, elements such as ‘breathing’ is heavily emphasized throughout this session, and a remarkable level of energy is essential from the very beginning of the composition. The interpreter needs to be inspired because of the nature of the composition; everything is very free and reads like an improvisation piece.
Céline Moinet explains that if the piece is played too fast, it becomes too even. The beginning needs to be long, the rest short. In addition, the pair discuss the importance of maintaining a precise rhythm among other crucial details.
The Metamorphoses after Ovid demands a high level of energy.
Rhythm needs to be precise.
Physicality and intention are the keys to interpreting the piece.
Playing too fast will result in something too uniform.
This program piece was written in 1951 by English composer Benjamin Britten and inspired by Roman Mythology. The six metamorphoses are based on six characters, the first one being Pan. Britten dedicated the oeuvre to oboist Joy Boughton, and was first featured at the Aldeburgh Festival in June 1951. The first movement is very free-spirited and reads like an improvisation. It is written without measures and has many pauses.
It can be especially challenging because of its free-form structure. Many musicians can feel confused and unsettled at first and one must make the piece its own to make sense of it in front of an audience.
Aim for excellence! You can improve your skills with expert advice. Download the annotated sheet music of this oboe masterclass. Please note that this piece has been annotated in accordance to Céline Moinet’s feedback and comments.
In 2006 she won first prizes for oboe and chamber music in the classes of David Walter and Maurice Bourgue.
Born in Lille in 1984, Céline Moinet studied the oboe and chamber music at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique de Paris in classes led by David Walter and Maurice Bourgue.
In 2006, she was awarded a Premier Prix in both disciplines. She also studied the Baroque oboe with Marcel Ponseele and Xenia Löffler. In 2004 and 2005, she completed her orchestral training as a member of the Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester under the direction of Claudio Abbado.
After this experience, she was invited to appear as guest principal with leading German orchestras such as the NDR Sinfonieorchester Hamburg, the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, the SWR Radiosinfonieorchester Stuttgart, the Philharmoniker Hamburg, and the orchestra of the Frankfurt Opera. In 2006, she was appointed principal oboe of the Nationaltheater-Orchester Mannheim. Since June 2008, she has occupied the same position with the celebrated Staatskapelle Dresden. In the autumn of 2011, she was invited by the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra to appear on an extended tour of Asia and Australia.
Céline Moinet performs regularly in solo and chamber repertoire. She has performed all the major oboe concertos with the Staatskapelle Dresden, the Prague Philharmonia, the Pacific Music Festival Orchestra, the New Japan Philharmonic, the Kammerorchester Basel, and the Dresdner Kapellsoliste. Via an invitation by Fabio Luisi, she has given recitals and taught masterclasses at the Pacific Music Festival in Sapporo, Japan.
Céline Moinet plays an oboe by Marigaux Paris.
Benjamin Britten (1913-1976) was an acclaimed English composer, pianist, and conductor. Having demonstrated musical talent from a young age, Britten began studying with composer Frank Bridge in London before going on to study piano and composition at the Royal College of Music. During his college years, he was exposed to the works of Mahler, who had a great influence on his musical style, and won several awards for composition.
From 1935-37, Britten established a friendship with poet W. H. Auden, who brought him into his intellectual circle and profoundly impacted his musical style and political views. During this time, Britten successfully worked on many film, radio, and theater projects, though he struggled socially and with his homosexuality. After the death of his mother in 1937, Britten felt more liberated and established a romantic, sexual, and musical relationship with tenor Peter Pears.
Britten rose to prominence as an opera composer in 1945 with the premiere of his famous opera, Peter Grimes. The work was based on a character from a poem by George Crabbe and was met with great success. Britten went on to compose several more popular operas, including The Rape of Lucretia, The Turn of the Screw, and Death In Venice. His operas are celebrated for their adept settings of English text, compelling orchestral interludes, and dramatic storytelling. Other popular works by the composer include The Young Composer’s Guide to the Orchestra and his masterpiece, the War Requiem, a massive work that commemorates the loss experienced in the World Wars. He also was one of the founders of the Aldeburgh Festival, a classical music festival that often performs new compositions and still exists today.
In 1976, shortly before his death, Britten became the only composer at the time to ever receive a life peerage. His works are still frequently performed, and he is touted as one of the most important English composers of the twentieth century.
Photo credit: National Portrait Gallery, London