The Quest of Oboist Juri Vallentin Becomes a Listening Adventure

03 Mar 2022

Written by: Guido van Oorschot

Translated by: E.J. Stevens

Published in: de Volkskrant

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Although you might not suspect it when immersed in Bach‘s St Matthew Passion, the chorale melody that is played after Jesus is mocked and beaten, O Haupt voll Blut und Wunden, comes from a 16th-century love song. Mein G’müth ist mir verwirret, I am confused because of a damsel.

The German oboist Juri Vallentin discovered that after Bach’s death, those same notes lived on.For example, in the Quadro über O Haupt voll Blut und Wunden by rococo composer J.G. Janitch, who wrote the work for oboe and three strings. When Vallentin further explored that unusual combination of instruments, he came across 4 Preludes to Infinity (2013) by the Dutchman Theo Verbey.

And so the quest for an old love song becomes a listening adventure, even containing a recorded first: a Romance for three strings by Frederick Septimus Kelly.This British Australian composed the piece in 1916, six months before he died in the trenches near the Somme, covered with blood and wounds.