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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.

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Rhapsody for Two
George GERSHWIN (1898-1937)

Rhapsody in Blue (arr. Dokshizer)
Zdenĕk FIBICH (1850-1900)

Poème
César CUI (1835-1918)

Oriental
Leonard BERNSTEIN (1918-1990)

Rondo for Lifey
Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937)

Pavane pour une Infante défunte
Piotr Ilitch TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893)

Danse Napolitaine
Valse sentimentale
Antonin DVOŘÁK (1841-1904)

Slavonic Dance Op. 10, No. 2 (arr. Dokshizer)
Abraham GEIFMANN (?)

Two Jewish Pieces - Melodie, Tanz
Romanze
Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828)

Ständchen
Alexander ARUTUNIAN (b. 1920)

Trumpet Concerto (Piano Reduction) - World Première Recording.
Andrea Michel, trumpet
Nicola Hollenbach, piano
Recording information not included.
No catalogue number [60.50]

This is a privately produced disc (to be made available through AMBITUS in Hamburg in future) highlighting the considerable talents of two young German musicians, trumpeter Andreas Michel and pianist Nicola Hollenbach. It features a combination of familiar pieces, often in unusual arrangements, with some less well known pieces, and at least one piece, or at least version, previously unrecorded - Armenian composer Artunian's celebrated Trumpet Concerto in its arrangement for trumpet and piano. The disc gets off to a good start with Dokshizer's arrangement of Rhapsody in Blue - a work so infectious it is difficult not to like in any incarnation and so it proves here. The chamber sound makes the jazz elements all the more apparent and I thoroughly enjoyed Michel's and Hollenbach's interpretation. The same applies to the Ravel Pavane where the arrangement brings out the soulful nature of the piece, I almost half expected to hear Miles Davis come in with Time After Time! However, the rest of the first half of the disc, while it is very well played, is just a little too salon orientated for this listener's tastes. The Fibich, Cui and Tchaikovsky pieces are well written and concise but ultimately come across as being rather superficial, even in Michel's full-blooded readings. The Bernstein piece is one of a series of vignettes he wrote for various brass instruments as tributes to pets of family and friends - brief and forgettable in this case. The Slavonic Dance has a bit more substance but still isn't entirely successful.

Things pick up, however, with the three short but authentic works by Abraham Geifmann; the Romanze is particularly haunting and ably demonstrates the narrow dividing line between the saccharine and the truly affecting. The bittersweet Jewish melodies work well with the instrumental combination and the trumpet smoulders nicely before bursting into musical flames in the aforementioned Arutunian. In between though we have the melancholic Schubert serenade - again not my cup of tea but very well done. The contrast between the concerto, albeit in reduced form, and most of the other music on this disc is stark. Listen to the Cui Oriental and then this real rather than kitsch exotica. It also gives Andreas Michel in particular the time and space to demonstrate his technique and feeling for the music rather better than in some of the shorter pieces. Whether playing the lyrical interludes or the more percussive climaxes, the duo mesh seamlessly to create a valid alternative or rather companion to the full orchestral version. Like the Gershwin, the Arutunian work adds meat to an otherwise lightweight programme and gives Rhapsody for Two the feel of a highly accomplished CD, although one which never really scales the heights of, say, John Wallace's classic but no longer available trumpet recital for EMI. I wouldn't want to listen every day but the Gershwin, Geifmann and Arutunian pieces are well worth a place in your collection.

Neil Horner



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