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Every day we post 10 new Classical CD and DVD reviews. A free weekly summary is available by e-mail. MusicWeb is not a subscription site. To keep it free please purchase discs through our links.

  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    





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BARGAIN OF THE MONTH

Karl Amadeus HARTMANN (1905 – 1963)
Lied (1933)
Joachim GRUNER (born 1933)
Trumpet Concerto No.1 (1986)
Trumpet Concerto No.2 (1990)
André JOLIVET (1905 – 1974)
Concertino (1948)a
Trumpet Concerto No.2 (1954)
Ernest BLOCH (1880 – 1959)
Proclamation (1955)
Jouko Harjanne (trumpet); Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra; Jukka-Pekka Saraste; Tapiola Sinfoniettaa; Juhani Lamminmäki a
Recorded: Culture Hall, Helsinki, August 1993 (Hartmann, Gruner No.2), August 1996 (Gruner No.1), August 1997 (Jolivet No.2) and September 1997 (Bloch); and Tapiola Hall, Espoo, January 1990 (Jolivet Concertino)
WARNER APEX 0927 43935-2 [72:37]

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Maurice André has long championed Jolivet’s trumpet concertos which he recorded with the composer conducting. Since then, other younger players (Wynton Marsalis and Jouko Harjanne, to mention but two) have brilliantly followed suit. The Concertino of 1948 was written as a test piece for the Paris Conservatoire and is a quite accessible work in variation form; but, it nevertheless puts a number of technical and expressive demands on the player, be it in animated, rhythmically intricate episodes or in passages calling for effortless cantabile playing. The Concertino is Jolivet at his most approachable. The Second Trumpet Concerto, written for André, is scored for a small wind ensemble including two saxophones, harp, piano, double bass and piano - a sophisticated jazz band. Jazzy inflections permeate the work, be it in the rhythmically alert outer movements or in the slow movement. Varèse, who had a lasting influence on Jolivet, is also recalled in the innovative use of percussion. The Second Trumpet Concerto is a brilliant display of virtuosity as well as of compositional originality. (Jolivet composed two other pieces for Maurice André: Arioso Barocco for trumpet and organ, and Heptade for trumpet and percussion.)

Hartmann’s Lied for trumpet and wind ensemble is the slow movement of his Concertino completed in 1933, withdrawn and reworked some time later as the second movement of the Fifth Symphony Sinfonia Concertante (1951). The most striking feature of this short piece is the bassoon’s main theme, a (near) quotation of the opening of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring, possibly as a tribute from the young composer to his illustrious and influential older colleague.

Bloch’s Proclamation is a late work written in 1955, during the composer’s last decade - the same era that produced the Symphony for Trombone and Orchestra (1954). True to its title, this short piece is declamatory and in the nature of a ritual invocation. LP collectors may remember that it was once available in a pioneering Louisville disc.

Berlin-born Joachim Gruner, whose name and music are new to me, is a professional percussionist and, from the 1960s onward, a composer of several concertos. His First Trumpet Concerto of 1986, in three movements (Arlecchino, Ballet and Carneval), is a virtuoso piece of great verve suggesting, to a certain extent, the atmosphere of a carnival. The music also has its darker, more enigmatic moments. On the other hand, the Second Concerto is, on the whole, more abstract but very much in line with its predecessor, stylistically speaking. Gruner’s music is fairly traditional, in 20th Century terms, mildly expressionistic but quite accessible. It is also superbly crafted and expertly written for the instrument. Gruner’s trumpet concertos, that were both first performed by Harjanne, might soon become standards in the trumpet’s repertoire. This is much finer stuff than, say, Arutiunian’s ubiquitous, but rather bland concerto.

Harjanne’s playing is simply stunning, immaculate and seemingly effortless. Excellent orchestral playing and recording (just try the opening of Jolivet’s Second Concerto). A most welcome release, and my Bargain of the Month.

Hubert Culot


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