Haydn (1732-1809) - Trumpet Concerto
is a musical work composed specifically to exploit some new-fangled instrument.
Mozart's Clarinet Concerto apart, the only one I can think of is
Haydn's Trumpet Concerto, written at the behest of his friend, Anton
Weidinger, a Viennese trumpeter. Like several others, Weidinger was fed
up with the limitations of the natural trumpet, and experimented with possible
improvements. These were hand-stopping, keys, and slides (apparently used
in England until well into the 19th. century: just imagine, an ensemble
of slide trumpets and trombones!). Weidinger eventually developed his “organised
trumpet”, incorporating keys similar to those of woodwind. It must have
been judged a success, or Haydn would surely have stayed well clear.
of course, is history. The keyed instrument only appeared successful, at
the time, because it was better than what already existed. Changing the
effective tube length using keyed holes bypassed the bell, damaging the
trumpet's power and liquid golden sonority. The invention of the valve
solved that. Recently, members of the “original instruments” fraternity
have tackled this concerto. The results are fascinating, if only to show
why we've abandoned keyed trumpets.
itself is so well-known, not to mention consummately clearly laid out,
that further description would be tedious. But, do listen how Haydn, particularly
in the Andante, designs his melodies to highlight the features of the keyed
instrument, concentrating unusual chromatic intervals in the low and middle
registers, right where the poor old Heineken-free natural trumpet couldn't
get. This is what gives it so distinctive a sound, making it a kindred
spirit more of the Mozart Horn Concertos than any contemporaneous
trumpet work. And there is that special delight, Haydn's endearing habit
of slipping in a little joke. After the first movement's grand cadenza,
and hearing the big build up in the finale, the pregnant pause positively
screams “another cadenza coming!” . . . and then it doesn't. Unless the
soloist has slipped in one of his own, in which case the joke will be on
those that know this joke.
© Paul Serotsky
29, Carr Street,
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