The oboe is the hardest instrument to play, so what drew the young virtuoso Alexei Ogrintchouk to it? "My parents took me to a lot of concerts in Moscow when I was young, and I was always fascinated by its sound. I loved its purity and naturalness."
Was he born with strong lungs? "I don't know, but it has certainly helped me to develop them. I did a routine lung test in a Moscow hospital when I was 18, and the doctors came out open-eyed, saying my capacity was right off the graph."
Tonight at London's Barbican he will premiere a new oboe concerto written for him by the French composer Marc-André Dalbavie with the BBC Symphony Orchestra. "It's a very testing piece, a great personal challenge. And as there are so few new works in the oboe repertoire, it will be a big event for the oboe world, too."