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Giuseppe TORELLI (1658-1709)
Trumpet Concertos (complete)
Concerto Estienne Roger; Sonata G.1; Sinfonia G.2; Sinfonia G.3; Sinfonia G.4; Sonata G.5; Sonata G.6; Sonata G.7; Sinfonia G.8; Sinfonia in D G.9; Sinfonia in D G.10; Sinfonia con Trombe G.11; Sonata in D G.13; Sinfonia avanti l’Opera G.14; Sonata a cinque G.15; Sinfonia con Trombe é Violini G16; Concerto con Trombe G.18; Sinfonia con Trombe G.20; Sinfonia con due Trombe G21; Sinfonia con due Trombe é Instrumenti G22; Sinfonia in D G.23; Concerto in D for two trumpets and bass continuo G.24;
Thomas Hammes (trumpet); Peter Leiner (trumpet 2)
European Chamber Soloists/Nicol Matt
Rec. Sendesaal Villa Berg des Südwestrundfunks, Stuttgart in June and July 2004 DDD
BRILLIANT CLASSICS 92401 [48:21 + 50:57]

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Torelli was born in Verona but studied composition in Bologna under Perti whilst becoming an orchestral string player. He composed concertos fairly extensively in various forms using titles such as ‘sinfonia’, ‘concerto’ and ‘sonata’ rather arbitrarily. The above listing may look confusing but essentially here we have nineteen trumpet concerti and three for two trumpets, generally with strings and harpsichord accompaniment.

The format is quite varied and these works have three, four or five movements. Notably, the Sinfonia G.11 has a middle (of three) movements lasting thirty seconds marked “presto/adagio” and there is precisely fifteen seconds at each tempo. The Sinfonia in D G.23 is perhaps the most striking work and also one of the more substantial at over six minutes! The two discs of just under 100 minutes have no less than 74 tracks, the longest of which fails to break the two and half minute barrier. Whilst such “minimalism” precludes major substance, these are attractive works which are full of invention and which are grateful for the solo instruments.

Apart from the prevailing importance of the trumpet in Bologna in the late 17th century, it is unclear to me why (or for whom) Torelli composed so much for the trumpet. Nevertheless there is no doubting his importance in this respect and these works seems to have done more than his other compositions to assure him a place in musical history.

In performance terms these are appropriately small-scale (there are about ten orchestral players in total) and based on modern instruments. Thomas Hammes is a young orchestral trumpeter currently with the SWR Radio Symphony Orchestra in Stuttgart and he plays with relish and fine control. Torelli’s demands are variably onerous and presumably reflect some instrumental limitations of the time. The orchestral playing is refined and spirited under another young artist, Nicol Matt, who chooses not to direct from the harpsichord. The recorded sound is bright and admirably balanced.

The documentation consists of a rather woolly essay by Matthieu Kuttler which suffers from an unidiomatic English translation. The soloists and conductor are given brief biographies in English (only) while the orchestra is described in German (only); presumably this was not intentional. Also, the composer Giacomo Antonio Perti is incorrectly given as “Petri” in the booklet.

Despite the vagaries of the documentation, at “Brilliant” (i.e. superbargain) price this set is excellent value. A highly recommendable way of exploring some worthwhile late 17th century music. It deserves the attention of anyone interested in the development of the trumpet.

Patrick C Waller


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