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Virtuoso Trumpet - Rolf Smedvig
Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)

Brandenburg Concerto No. 2 in F major, BWV 1047
Georg Philipp TELEMANN (1681-1767)
Trumpet Concerto in D major
Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)
Orchestral Suite No. 2 in B minor, BWV 1067 (Transcribed for Trumpet)
Leopold MOZART (1719-1787)
Trumpet Concerto in D major
Rolf Smedvig, trumpet
Scottish Chamber Orchestra/Jahja Ling
rec. City Hall, Glasgow, Scotland, July 3-4, 1989; Masonic Auditorium, Cleveland, Ohio, USA, June 23, 1992 DDD
TELARC CD-80227 [53:28]

 

The booklet notes states that Seattle-born Rolf Smedvig is one of the world’s great trumpeters; a dazzling virtuoso acknowledged as both a soloist and chamber musician of international renown. He has played as soloist with many of the world’s premier orchestras such as the Boston Symphony, Zurich Tonhalle and the Chicago Symphony. While studying at Tanglewood in 1971, he was invited by the great Leonard Bernstein to play solo trumpet in the world premiere of the composer's Mass to marked the opening of the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. Smedvig served the Boston Symphony and the Tanglewood Music Center for ten years. Appointed by Seiji Ozawa, he became the youngest member of that orchestra and after becoming principal trumpet, left to pursue a career as soloist and conductor.

This album is Smedvig’s second for Telarc and consists of previously released material recorded between 1989 and 1992 The first Telarc album of trumpet concertos (CD-80232) featured the music of Hummel, Haydn, Torelli, Tartini and Bellini. It was extremely successful gaining considerable critical acclaim and was nominated for a prestigious Grammy Award.

J.S. Bach: Brandenburg Concerto No. 2 in F major, BWV 1047

Although they are often discussed, recorded, and published as a collection, the six concertos encompassing the so-called Brandenburg Concertos were not written all at once, nor for the same ensemble. Scholars suspect that nos. 1, 3, and 6 may have been written much earlier than the others, perhaps dating from Bach's Weimar period (1708-1717), while 2, 4, and 5 most likely came from Cöthen. Bach later put them together and dedicated them to the Margrave of Brandenburg.

The Second might be the most popular of the six for its brilliant scoring. This is an example of a common orchestral genre of the Baroque known as the concerto grosso. This utilizes two ensembles, one large and one small. The large one is called the ripieno or tutti; this includes the orchestra. A group of soloists comprise the smaller group, entitled the concertino (meaning little concerto group). In this work Bach's ripieno includes solo flute or recorder, trumpet, violin, oboe, and continuo. The trumpet part is very virtuosic, written to employ a style known as ‘clarino playing’ in which the trumpeter played in the highest range of the instrument, and using quickly-changing lip pressure to change the pitch of the instrument. The trumpet of Bach's day was a long tubed instrument without valves, which were added around 1815. Today, we normally hear a piccolo trumpet (sometimes called a "Bach trumpet"), which is pitched higher to play these passages more easily; however, the tone of the instrument is quite brilliant, and tends to dominate the texture whenever it is played.

J.S. Bach: Orchestral Suite No. 2 for flute and strings, in B minor, BWV 1067 (Transcribed for Trumpet)

Bach's BWV 1067 is one of four surviving "orchestral suites" — although Bach would have called them ouvertures, that is, dance suites in the French style. Each of these pieces included a long opening movement featuring a slow introduction, a fast fugal allegro, and a quasi-repeat of the introduction, followed by a set of stylised dance movements. Bach probably composed BWV 1067 when he was employed at the court of Anhalt-Cöthen, during his Leipzig years. Whereas the Orchestral Suite No. 1 is a hybrid of concerto grosso and ouverture, the Orchestral Suite No. 2 mixes elements of a solo concerto with the French suite. On this recording the demanding and virtuosic flute part has been transcribed for the trumpet but we are not informed by whom.

Telemann: Trumpet Concerto in D major

A most prolific composer, Telemann clearly enjoyed writing in the concerto form as he was to composed forty-seven solo concertos for a wide variety of instruments. The Concerto for trumpet, strings and basso continuo in D major was never published in his lifetime although the score is popular and is contained on several compilation discs of music deemed suitable for weddings. The work is in the three movement form and the slow introduction offers the soloist an opportunity for lyric playing in effective contrast to the fanfare-like themes of the ensuing Allegro. The Allegro is largely based around the rhythmic and melodic figures introduced by the orchestra. The third movement is for the orchestra only and serves as a brief connecting movement that gives the soloist an opportunity to rest for the spirited Allegro finale.

Leopold Mozart: Trumpet Concerto in D major

Leopold Mozart was the father and mentor of the great Wolfgang Amadeus and is renowned in his own right as a composer and, in particular, as the author of an important treatise on violin playing. Leopold was not only a fine violinist but it is believed that he was also a trumpeter. The Trumpet Concerto in D major is in two movements, scored for solo trumpet, two horns, strings and harpsichord continuo. The first movement Adagio is regarded as an excellent demonstration of the lyrical qualities of the ‘natural’ (valveless, keyless and slideless) trumpet as any in the repertoire. In the second movement Allegro moderato the strings, horns and soloist compete, throwing the rustic, outdoor theme between each other.

Rolf Smedvig is on fine form with this Teldec reissue of mainstream trumpet repertoire. Smedvig seems to give each phrase its own personality and there is a most agreeable timbre to his playing. The booklet notes are adequate although rather uninteresting and the sound quality from the Telarc engineers is top-class. Creditable performances.

Michael Cookson



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