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Johann Sebastian BACH (1685–1750)
Nun seid ihr wohl gerochen (Christmas Oratorio) [3.48]
So geh’ich mit beherzten Schritten (Cantata 111) [9.47]
Wir danken, wir preisen (Cantata 134) [9.36]
Mein Freund is mein (Cantata 140) [6.06]
Gott, der du Lieve heist (Cantata 33) [5.43]
George Frideric HANDEL (1685–1759)
Quel flor ch’all’alba ride [5.59]
No, di voi non cuo fidarmi [4.51]
Barbara Butler (trumpet); Charles Geyer (trumpet); Barbara Harbach (organ)
rec. 1987, First Lutheran Church, Lyons, New York
GASPARO SILVER SERIES
GSS2002
[46.28]
Experience Classicsonline


Though not immediately apparent from the CD cover, this is a reissue of an historic recording originally made in 1987. The two trumpet players held positions at the Eastman School of Music and were active in the Music of the Baroque Orchestra in Chicago. The disc presents an attractive recital of arrangements of music by Bach and Handel, all but one being a duet.

The venue for the recording was the First Lutheran Church, Lyons, New York which contained a 1970 Schlicker tracker organ. This organ was inspired by the 17th century German organ building techniques which would have been familiar to Bach. The church itself is similar in construction to the German Lutheran churches in Thuringia and is described as having an excellent acoustic.

The organ was fully encased and free-standing and was placed in the rear gallery of the church. It had a mechanical key and pedal action with an electrical stop action.

The recital opens with an arrangement of the final chorus from Bach’s Christmas Oratorio followed by four duets taken from Cantatas nos. 111, 134, 140 and 33. Finally we hear two of Handel’s Italian Duets, the duets on which he famously based the choruses from Messiah.

The standard of trumpet playing here is superb. If it came down to just this, then I would have no hesitation in recommending the recording. Unfortunately, to my ears, the organ accompaniment lets the recital down, even allowing for the historic status of the recording.

Whenever the trumpets are playing, organist Barbara Harbach adopts a rather light, high registration which tinkles harpsichord-like in the background and entirely fails to balance with, or support the soloists. The organ’s lower registration, by contrast, is strong and combines with the acoustic to boom somewhat. This unfortunate combination means that when the trumpeters are playing the effect is of them being accompanied by a strong organ bass-line and a very, very distant right hand harmony. This is not an isolated effect, but seems to have been adopted for all the trumpet passages. Harbach’s registration in the ritornelli is rather better and shows what she can do. The acoustic also contrives to render the organ sound a little soggy.

The arrangements were all done by the organist, Barbara Harbach.

The superb trumpet playing on this disc makes it worth a listen, but the rather idiosyncratic organ accompaniment render it unsatisfactory for regular listening.

Robert Hugill




 


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