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Decca Phase 4
Heinz Karl GRUBER (b.
Exposed Throat (2000) [11:22]
Daniel BÖRTZ (b.
Målning (2000) [8:53]
Poul RUDERS (b.
Reveille-Retraite (2003) [10:04]
Robert HENDERSON (b.
Variations Movements (1967)
Robin HOLLOWAY (b.
Sonata for Solo Trumpet Op.94a (1999) [21:43]
rec. Nybrokajen 11, Stockholm, Sweden, January and March
BIS CD-1281 [62:00]
Throat was composed to a commission from the
International Trumpet Guild. The composer also describes
this short unaccompanied piece as the cadenza absent
from his trumpet concerto Aerial composed
in 1999 and dedicated to Hardenberger, who recorded it
some time ago (DG 4776150). The title of the piece
derives from a similarly titled painting by Claes Eklundh
that adorns the cover of this release. As might be expected,
this is a brilliant display work full of energy and fantasy.
Hardenberger has “inserted” some breathing pauses in
the form of what Gruber calls “clusters of air columns”.
The music is demanding, but never calls for the sort
of extravagant playing techniques all-too-often used
in modern works for wind instruments. In the final section,
though, some percussive sounds - probably foot-stamping
- are heard.
coincidentally, I think, Börtz’s Målning (“Painting”)
also draws on paintings by Eklundh. These provided him with
the impetus to write several other works, all composed for
specific artists. This one, too, was written for and dedicated
to Hardenberger. The music is again remarkably inventive
and quite taxing, calling for considerable virtuosity and
again dedicated to Hardenberger, is relatively simpler than
the previous pieces. The title refers to the military bugle
calls, Reveille and Retraite. So, this short
diptych explores two highly contrasted expressive worlds: Reveille is
a short, brilliant fanfare whereas the somewhat longer Retraite is
a beautiful, song-like movement, marked Lontano.
Henderson composed his Variation Movements in
1964 when he was just sixteen years old. He revised it in
1967 for a recording by Thomas Stevens of the Los Angeles
Philharmonic. The music exploits the various qualities and
possibilities of the instrument to the full, and the end
result of it all is superbly crafted and highly attractive.
Holloway’s Sonata for Solo Trumpet Op.94a is
a substantial piece. Its first performance had to be divided
between three players, which says much for the technical
challenges posed by the music. As a result, there also exists
a version for two trumpets (Op.94b). Hardenberger plays the
original version. The work falls into three movements: an
improvisatory Prelude, Melody with echo and
an extended finale Toccata, Intermezzo and Fugue.
Again, this is utterly serious, superbly crafted, often quite
beautiful and strongly expressive. The music never calls
for unusual playing techniques, and sounds comparatively
easy on the ear, although it is fiendishly demanding.
be quite frank with you, I did not know when asking for this
disc that the pieces were all for unaccompanied trumpet.
I almost fainted when I realised that! I have listened to
it several times, with growing admiration both for the intrinsic
quality of the music and for the immaculate playing of Hardenberger,
whom I consider as the Maurice André of our times. He navigates
fearlessly and almost effortlessly through all these demanding,
but ultimately highly rewarding pieces. A magnificent release
and – no doubt about it – my record of the month.
Gerard Hoffnung CDs
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