THE BARRET QUARTETS - Click for details

FromThe Double Reed, Vol. 38, No. 1 (May 2015), the journal of the International Double Reed Society (IDRS): "Imagine writing two more voices to all forty of Barret's 40 Progressive Melodies, in a way that suits an additional oboe and and English horn player. I can't, but Ken Watson can and did--generating nearly an hour and twenty minutes worth of double reed ensemble music. ... It is a lovely document for easy and edifying double reed listening. Sometimes the harmonies generated reach beyond what was ever in my mind, in order to provide some interest for the additional players, but never in an inappropriate or disagreeable way."

- Jeanne Marie Belfy, Professor of Music, Boise State University

Apollon Marie-Rose Barret (1804-1879) was a renown French oboist who served as principal oboist of the Royal Italian Opera at Covent Garden and professor of oboe at the Royal Academy of Music in London. He contributed greatly to the design of the modern oboe and wrote etudes, studies, and other works to advance the art of oboe playing. The 1862 edition of his "Complete Method for the Oboe," the source for these arrangements, is used by virtually every oboe student and teacher worldwide, even today.

Here they are arranged for double-reed quartet (two oboes, English horn, and bassoon). I undertook this project for several reasons. First, playing chamber music is a great way for students to learn to listen to each other, become more precise in intonation and rhythm, and to explore new musical adventures. Second, the Barret melodies are memorable – some would even call them “catchy” - and adding harmonizations and countermelodies renews them and makes them accessible to new players. Third, this body of work could be useful for performance by a quartet where casual or shorter pieces are needed. My overall hope is that players and teachers will enjoy these melodies as much as I have, in both playing and arranging them. In his master classes, John de Lancie often said that if you paid attention, you could get everything you needed to know about playing the oboe from “The Barret.”

"Ken Watson's colorful and imaginative quartet arrangements of the Barret Forty Progressive Melodies are a wonderful addition to the double reed repertoire. Students will benefit from hearing them, while any listener can enjoy them. The melodies are beautifully played on this recording, and the combination of two oboes, English horn and bassoon is a great sound!" --Marilyn Zupnik, Oboist, Classic Oboe Etudes

Click on the graphic to hear the arrangements, buy the CD or individual tracks, or buy the sheet music.

CD Baby
Amazon MP3 Downloads
Sheet Music, Volume 1
Sheet Music, Volume 2
Sheet Music, Volume 3
Sheet Music, Volume 4
Sheet Music, Volume 5

The sheet music (score and parts) is available at TrevCo Music in 5 volumes.

WSCL Radio, Salisbury, Maryland, listed this CD as its Delight of the Week in May 2015: "My Delight of the Week!  Ken Watson's biography is worth reading for it's depth and complexity... just fascinating.   Having been a member of "The President's Own" (and several of the other musicians on this CD either were or are currently part of that group) he decided to switch from musician to active duty... and has since worked in network security.  Such is the life of a musician!   Now able to focus more fully on music, he is particularly devoted to fostering knowledge and appreciation for double reed instruments.  With the lyricism of Mendelssohn, the appeal of Gershwin, and the lush melodies of Still, I'd say this is a great start!"

Also in May 2015, WHRO Radio, Norfolk, Virginia commented: "The Mendelssohn, etc, wind ensemble CD is great.  Very fine arrangements, great sound, excellent playing."

Felix Mendelssohn's Quartet in E-Flat, Opus 12, George Gershwin's Three Preludes, and William Grant Still's Lyric Quartette, arranged for double reed quartet (two oboes, English horn, and bassoon).

"I've enjoyed hearing this and the earlier Barret Quartets CD again and again.  These arrangements would be lots of fun to play and also great teaching material." --David Weber, Weber Reeds, Inc.

"Ken Watson's Mendelssohn, Gershin, Still CD is really GREAT.  Wonderful playing and superlative arrangements!!" --Trevor Cramer, TrevCo Music Publishing and Member, Board of Directors, International Double Reed Society (IDRS)
Digital download at
This album at CD Baby
Sheet music: Mendelssohn
Sheet music: Gershwin
Sheet music: Still