The Neo-classical Trumpet
Igor STRAVINSKY (1882-1971)
Pulcinella Suite (1922) [21:56]
Walter LEIGH (1905-1942)
A Midsummer Night’s Dream Suite (1936) [3:52]
Gabriel FAURÉ (1845-1924)
Masques et Bergamasques, Op. 112 (1919) [13:13]
Bohuslav MARTINŮ (1890-1959)
Sonatine (1956) [7:19]
Ottorino RESPIGHI (1879-1936)
Gli uccelli (1927) [17:25]
Wilhelm STENHAMMAR (1871-1927)
Mellanspel (from The Song, Cantata, Op. 44) (1921) [3:08]
Jonathan Freeman-Attwood (trumpet); Daniel-Ben Pienaar (piano)
All works except Martinů arranged by Daniel-Ben Pienaar
rec. 2014, St George’s, Bristol, UK
LINN RECORDS CKD 448 [66:53]
Trumpeter Jonathan Freeman-Attwood and pianist Daniel-Ben
Pienaar have teamed up for a whole series of recital discs and every
single one has been an artistic success: past reviews: Trumpet
Masque – French
album – Romantic
sonatas. This is especially true because often, as here, the performers
have had to arrange the music themselves. They create satisfying programmes
based around intelligent ideas. Here, we have “The Neo-classical Trumpet”.
There’s just one original piece, Martinů’s Sonatine, along
with nearly an hour of very smart, successful arrangements by Pienaar.
Stravinsky’s Pulcinella Suite leads us off, and sets the tone
for the whole album, with its puckish wit, successful aping of 18th-century
dance forms and direct expression. From the first seconds of the first
track, you know you’re in for a treat. It helps that Freeman-Attwood
is willing to get silly with some of the clowning-around that takes
place later, as in VII, Vivo. The trumpet’s rousing, bright-eyed sound
is perfectly suited to all these musical choices, even the more obscure
ones. Can an instrument be said to have a personality? If so, the trumpet’s
is an inspired match for Gabriel Fauré and the Masques et Bergamasques:
I would never have thought it, but the arrangement is a great success.
It also, handily, plays up the neo-classical elements of the music,
which here fits right into the programme rather than sounding too impressionistic.
I shouldn’t have doubted.
For obscure choices, Freeman-Attwood and Pienaar have dug up an encore
– a beautiful Stenhammar cantata excerpt deftly arranged – and some
very short bits of incidental music to A Midsummer Night’s Dream,
by Walter Leigh. Leigh’s Dream doesn’t sound too different from
Mendelssohn’s despite the difference of a century but can you blame
him? It’s impressive that, despite the similarity Leigh’s three tiny
dances are still fun and fresh on their own. Leigh wrote this music
for a Nazi production which wanted to replace Mendelssohn with somebody
un-Jewish. Leigh was not a Nazi himself, though, dying in the fight
against them in 1942 as a member of the Royal Armoured Corps.
Martinů’s Sonatine dates from his very last years, and like
the other chamber music from that time, it’s lyrical, generally sunny,
but with the motoric rhythms and unpredictable syncopations emblematic
of the composer’s style. This is yet another reminder that, the more
I listen to Martinů, the more I love his music. The disc is rounded
out by Respighi’s Gli uccelli, which represents yet another feat
of both virtuoso transcription and virtuoso performance. The nightingale’s
song, rendered with the trumpet muted, is especially moving.
Since Daniel-Ben Pienaar is responsible for arranging most of the works
on the album, he deserves credit as much more than an accompanist. He’s
truly an equal partner. Freeman-Attwood wrote the wonderful booklet
essay, nine pages long. Although it’s slightly academic in tone, it
is well worth your attention, especially when he explains how he and
Pienaar choose which music to arrange for each of their adventures.
Elsewhere in the booklet Pienaar’s artist photo makes him look like
a menacing hired gun in a Bond film.
This is yet another in the duo’s long series of hit trumpet albums.
It may yet become my favorite, in fact. The repertoire, arrangements
and playing are all so winning that the CD practically needs no review.
It selects itself. Buy with anticipation.