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La trompette retrouvée
Jean-Philippe RAMEAU (1683-1764)
Naïs: Suite (1748) (arr. Pienaar) [16:57]
Reynaldo HAHN (1874-1947)
Á Chloris (1916) [3:03]
Emanuel CHABRIER (1841-1894)
Suite for Trumpet and Piano (1881-1891) (arr. Pienaar) [15:04]
Camille SAINT-SAËNS (1835-1921)
Cello Sonata No. 2, Op. 123: Romanza (1905) (arr. Freeman-Attwood) [7:37]
Gabriel FAURÉ (1845-1924)
Violin Sonata No. 2, Op. 108 (1917) (arr. Freeman-Attwood) [21:23]
Jonathan Freeman-Attwood (trumpet)
Daniel-Ben Pienaar (piano)
rec. St. George's, Brandon Hill, Bristol, July 2006
LINN CKD294 [64:46]


Experience Classicsonline

The title of this album translates as "the trumpet found again". I'd not realized it was lost. Your feelings about the program may well depend simply on how you like this sort of transcription. The whole enterprise reminded me of the days when James Galway and Richard Stoltzman were more or less appropriating each other's repertoire (for the flute and clarinet respectively), though you can make a stronger case for expanding the limited chamber repertoire available to the trumpet. 

The trumpet isn't so far from home, after all, in the eight-movement Rameau suite - though it's been a while since I've heard a full-sized modern instrument essaying Baroque music - which offers a good overall impression of Jonathan Freeman-Attwood's playing. He places every note precisely, maintaining clean articulation even in movements like the Sarabande, using carefully gauged dynamics to shape the lyric lines rather than pouring on a cornettish legato. Conversely, he ends the Rigaudons with a dazzling display of double- and triple-tonguing, and keeps the embellishments smartly in time in the Tambourins even as Daniel-Ben Pienaar, a fine pianist, struggles a bit with them. 

From Rameau to the Romantics who dominate the rest of the program may seem quite the forward leap, but Reynaldo Hahn's song Á Chloris, an affectionate hommage to the Baroque, bridges the gap appropriately. The chaste clarity with which Freeman-Attwood intones the vocal line acknowledges its older roots. 

Pianist Pienaar has assembled the Chabrier suite from four of the composer's piano pieces; indeed, he retains the third, Feuillet d'album, as a piano solo, giving it a pearly, gentle touch. Chabrier's distinctive juxtaposition of refinement and hearty wit marks all four movements, with Freeman-Attwood underlining the spirited country-dance element in the closing Scherzo-valse at a moderate, lilting pace. 

As you might guess, the pieces composed for strings undergo the greatest transformation. The Saint-Saëns sonata movement proves so effective on its own terms that it's difficult to reimagine it in its original cello version. Freeman-Attwood's carefully etched phrasing brings out the music's plangent undercurrents, with the solo line rising to peaks of stoic isolation. A brief cadenza-like outburst at 5:15 transfers nicely: the soloist's crisp tonguing aptly reproduces the edge of rapid bowing, while many a cellist will envy his pinpoint intonation. 

Fauré's violin sonata, too, works better than you'd expect, with the transfer to the trumpet highlighting unexplored facets of the music: for example, the opening solo phrases, forthrightly attacked, sound startlingly angular, before the music settles into the customary undulations. The trumpet does seem awfully bright in the central Andante, where the lyric lines blossom with a sort of restrained passion; Freeman-Attwood's pillowy pulsings in the finale are most appealing. 

Recording the solo trumpet effectively is more difficult than you might think: too close a pickup and the overtones become piercing; too distant, and the focus is needlessly smudged. Linn's engineers, predictably, get these things just right, with just enough ambience to give the instrument some space. And the full-bodied piano sound avoids the blanched, shallow reproduction that has marred other, similar productions.

Stephen Francis Vasta



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