Soviet oboist settles here and searches the region for work

January 11, 1991|By Ernest F. Imhoff | Ernest F. Imhoff,Evening Sun Staff

VLADIMIR Lande, a former principal oboist with the Leningrad Symphony, is chasing a dream these days in his car. The dream is a full-time oboist's job, and it takes him to Harrisburg, Richmond, St. Mary's City, Washington, New York and this Sunday to Baltimore, anywhere there's a good gig.

"I like America more and more each day," Lande said, "but I'm much busier driving than playing."

Lande is a 28-year-old Soviet Jewish emigre who came to Baltimore with his pianist wife, Irina, and young son, Anton, now almost 3, in late 1989. They are among 3,000 to 3,500 Soviet Jews who have settled in Baltimore, 1,600 in the past three years. For five years he was chief oboist in Leningrad where the couple played frequent recitals together.

There he became friends with Joseph Turner, principal oboist for the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, when the BSO toured the Soviet Union. He thanks Turner for his friendship and helping to acquaint him with the American style of playing.

"Vladimir is an excellent musician," Turner said yesterday "and is making great strides in changing sounds." American and Russian sounds are different. Turner explained that the oboe's sound, more than that of any other instrument, is definable in international playing. Russian playing, derived from the older German school, was cut off from outside influences by socialism. Instruments in the Soviet Union were also dated.

"The Russian playing is very conservative but still sophisticated," Turner said. "The Russian oboe tone is broad with a pronounced vibrato and the American tone is darker, more focused, and the vibrato is narrower." Vibrato is a fast regular fluctuation in pitch. A certain amount is desired; too much of a wobble is not.

Because of Turner and other friends such as BSO violinist Leonid Berkovich, whose mother taught with Lande's mother in Leningrad, the oboist and his wife chose Baltimore as their American home, joining the thousands of Jews who have left rising anti-Semitism and other problems in the Soviet Union.

Vladimir and Irina play a short recital of Mozart's "Adagio" and sonatas by Poulenc and Saint-Saens with Irina alone playing Russian music in a program at 4 p.m. Sunday at the Baltimore Hebrew University, 5800 Park Heights Ave. But also planned, according to Judy Richter, assistant to the dean, is a discussion after the music by the couple and others about performing arts in the Soviet Union and opportunities for emigre musicians here and in Israel. Tickets are $2.

After his arrival, the woodwind player worked for a while at the Jewish Community Center. Of the recent 1,600 Soviet emigres here, 25 are professionally trained concert musicians, according to Gail Kramer, of Jewish Family Services of the Associated Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore. Talented American-born and other musicians naturally are also looking for work, so the competition for jobs is fierce all over.

Vladimir now plays free-lance oboe with the orchestras in Harrisburg and Richmond and other groups in St. Mary's City and Washington and teaches oboe to a St. Mary's student. He played for the Baltimore Opera Company's Wagner program and for a Russian ballet group's "Nutcracker" at the Lyric.

He has auditioned for full-time jobs in Kansas City, Naples, Fla., and elsewhere. Irina works part-time at Peabody Prep as a piano accompanist.

Vladimir has played a recital in New York and several here. After Sunday, he plays in St. Mary's City Jan. 25 and, with Irina, plays a free concert at 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 10, at the Baltimore Hebrew Congregation.

"I knew about it, the difficulties of full-time work here," the oboist said, "but I didn't expect it to be that hard. There's almost nothing in summer. But I'm hopeful."

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