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Trumpet Concertos
Johann Nepomuk HUMMEL (1778-1837) Trumpet Concerto in E major s49;
Jan Kritiel NERUDA (1707-1780) Trumpet Concerto
Bedrich Divis WEBER ( 1766-1842) Variations in F major
Joseph HAYDN (1732-1809) Trumpet Concerto in E flat major Hob VII:1
Niklas Eklund (trumpet)
Swedish Chamber Orchestra/Roy Goodman
Rec. Orebro Concert Hall, Sweden, October 1999
NAXOS 8.554806 [57.15]



Many of you will remember the days of vinyl when on one side of the LP would be the Haydn concerto and on the other the Hummel; old bedfellows indeed and nicely contrasting. But nowadays when an hour is the ‘norm’ for a recording music-lovers demand more and so this fascinating and unique collection comes together. These four composers each tackle the trumpet concerto quite differently. They come from slightly different periods of music history and from differing European centres.
It may be helpful to look at these pieces chronologically and to consider how the instrument developed from about 1780 until the 1830s. As was the case with most wind instruments at this time manufacturers and makers were experimenting with differing bore sizes, valves and even holed instruments and length of tubing.
In the 18th Century the importance of the trumpet sank to the status of the ordinary and was not even highly esteemed in the orchestra, having a restricted range. For this reason few innovations were made for most of the century. Originally the trumpet was in D making (and I’m sorry to be a bit technical here) the Hummel concerto in E major, not in F# for the trumpet as it would be for a Bb instrument, but in the much more manageable key of D. There were also trumpets in F and in A.
The keyed trumpet with five keys proved a short term innovation, this helped increase the range especially in the lower register. In his booklet notes Keith Anderson mentions that because of the so-called harmonic series more notes were available in the upper register. These keys made an increase of pitches possible throughout its range.
So you have to imagine that the concerto by the Bohemian composer Neruda was written for such a trumpet and in an early classical almost Baroque style. The first movement reminded me of C.P.E. Bach in one of his less anarchic moods. It is still is accompanied by harpsichord continuo which for some listeners can be an annoying feature. Roy Goodman has modern instruments at his disposal in the Swedish Chamber but they are strongly aware of the stylistic considerations in regard to bowing techniques. Even so it is a strong sound and the harpsichord as a consequence seems to me to be rather closely miked.
Haydn’s concerto dates from c.1800 and was written for the keyed trumpet and for its inventor, Anton Weidinger, who gave its first performance. Again Roy Goodman allows the harpsichord a strong prominence. Haydn explores the possibilities of the new instrument particularly in the fast finger-work needed for the justly famous Rondo finale.
Next, comes the Hummel concerto; apt really because Hummel took over at the Esterhazy’s after Haydn’s retirement. This concerto dates from 1803 and was also composed for Weidinger. Its rather pompous opening is certainly Mozartian but now there is no harpsichord. The work has a sonata-form first movement of nearly ten minutes with its length being dictated by an opening orchestral ritornello stating the two subjects. It lasts exactly two minutes before the soloist enters
The concerto by Bedrich Weber which dates from 1828, is, in my view, a third rate work by an astonishingly conservative composer. His long and influential life and many years at the Prague Conservatoire as its principal must have held back the course of Czech music considerably. He apparently hated Beethoven, Berlioz and Carl Maria von Weber. His variations are predictable but I think the most virtuoso pieces on the CD. The last one is a distinctly lack-lustre ‘Tempo di Polacca’. Perhaps its performance is at fault the Swedish orchestra being unable to raise the enthusiasm.
Of course all this talk of trumpet development is superfluous in that Niklas Eklund uses modern instruments. For the Neruda and Haydn he selects the Eb. For the Hummel the choice falls to the trumpet in the bright key of E and for the Weber a conventionally pitched trumpet in Bb.
Roy Goodman is the right man for this music. In my book this is the most enjoyable performance of the Hummel I have ever heard, being well shaped and with ideal tempi and balance.
So, all in all, this is a commended recording of both standard and unusual repertoire. It is well worth investigating.

Gary Higginson



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