The title of this album translates as "the trumpet found again".
I'd not realized it was lost. Your feelings about the program
may well depend simply on how you like this sort of transcription.
The whole enterprise reminded me of the days when James Galway
and Richard Stoltzman were more or less appropriating each
other's repertoire (for the flute and clarinet respectively),
though you can make a stronger case for expanding the limited
chamber repertoire available to the trumpet.
The trumpet isn't so far from home, after all, in the eight-movement
Rameau suite - though it's been a while since I've heard a
full-sized modern instrument essaying Baroque music - which
offers a good overall impression of Jonathan Freeman-Attwood's
playing. He places every note precisely, maintaining clean
articulation even in movements like the Sarabande,
using carefully gauged dynamics to shape the lyric lines rather
than pouring on a cornettish legato. Conversely, he
ends the Rigaudons with a dazzling display of double-
and triple-tonguing, and keeps the embellishments smartly
in time in the Tambourins even as Daniel-Ben Pienaar,
a fine pianist, struggles a bit with them.
From Rameau to the Romantics who dominate the rest of the program may
seem quite the forward leap, but Reynaldo Hahn's song Á
Chloris, an affectionate hommage to the Baroque,
bridges the gap appropriately. The chaste clarity with which
Freeman-Attwood intones the vocal line acknowledges its older
Pianist Pienaar has assembled the Chabrier suite from four of the composer's
piano pieces; indeed, he retains the third, Feuillet d'album,
as a piano solo, giving it a pearly, gentle touch. Chabrier's
distinctive juxtaposition of refinement and hearty wit marks
all four movements, with Freeman-Attwood underlining the spirited
country-dance element in the closing Scherzo-valse
at a moderate, lilting pace.
As you might guess, the pieces composed for strings undergo the greatest
transformation. The Saint-Saëns sonata movement proves so
effective on its own terms that it's difficult to reimagine
it in its original cello version. Freeman-Attwood's carefully
etched phrasing brings out the music's plangent undercurrents,
with the solo line rising to peaks of stoic isolation. A brief
cadenza-like outburst at 5:15 transfers nicely: the soloist's
crisp tonguing aptly reproduces the edge of rapid bowing,
while many a cellist will envy his pinpoint intonation.
Fauré's violin sonata, too, works better than you'd expect, with the
transfer to the trumpet highlighting unexplored facets of
the music: for example, the opening solo phrases, forthrightly
attacked, sound startlingly angular, before the music settles
into the customary undulations. The trumpet does seem awfully
bright in the central Andante, where the lyric lines
blossom with a sort of restrained passion; Freeman-Attwood's
pillowy pulsings in the finale are most appealing.
Recording the solo trumpet effectively is more difficult than you might
think: too close a pickup and the overtones become piercing; too
distant, and the focus is needlessly smudged. Linn's engineers,
predictably, get these things just right, with just enough ambience
to give the instrument some space. And the full-bodied piano sound
avoids the blanched, shallow reproduction that has marred other,
Stephen Francis Vasta