L'arte della trombetta
Hannes Eichmann (narrator)*
rec. 17-19 February 2014, large hall, Anton Bruckner Privatuniversität, Linz, Upper Austria. DDD GRAMOLA 99079 [53:31]
"One of the most widespread and important functions
of trumpets is the marking of power and status. In many parts of the
world, trumpets and drums have been part of the regalia associated with
kingship." Thus opens the paragraph 'Use and function'
in the entry on the trumpet in New Grove. It adds that this
association continues to the present day with a reference to the British
monarchy. Anyone who has ever witnessed live or on television the entry
of members of the Royal Family in Westminster Abbey will have heard
the sound of trumpets. No wonder that trumpeters were always held in
Today trumpets are probably admired mostly for musical reasons. That
goes in particular for the players of instruments such as were used
before the invention of valves in the nineteenth century. Until then
trumpets were mostly used as natural sounding instruments. "The
basic tune could be changed by attaching additional arcs of different
size but the musical range still confined itself to the harmonic series.
To master the playing in the high 'Clarin range' that
starts on the note c", one had to practice for years and also be
of excellent physical condition", Ernst Schlader states in his
In a treatise of 1795 the German trumpeter Johann Ernst Altenburg made
a distinction between Feldstück- or Prinzipalblasen
which was appropriate for military signals and outdoor music of a trumpet
corps, and the softer Clarinblasen, associated with the solo
playing in the clarino registers. Some trumpeters could play their instrument
as softly as a flute. Both aspects are represented on the programme
of the present disc.
All the music is from Austria and was written between the late 17th
and the early 19th centuries. One important source is the library of
the castle of Kremsier. This town - today the Czech town Kroměříž
- was then part of the Habsburg empire. Under Karl Liechtenstein-Castelcorno
Kremsier experienced one of its most brilliant periods. The violinist
Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber and the trumpeter Josef Vejvanovsky were
two of the members of his chapel. Biber's Sonata Sancti Polycarpi
a 9 is part of the archive of the chapel, and it is likely that
Vejvanovsky participated in the performances of this piece for eight
trumpets, timpani and basso continuo which Biber indicated should be
performed in two choirs. The anonymous Sonataà 5 Clarini
e Organo in C has been found in the same archive.
The next part of the programme is devoted to the classical period when
trumpets often played in ensemble with other instruments. Joseph Starzer
was an Austrian violinist and composer who was especially famous for
his ballets of which he composed a huge number. His Musica da camera
comprises five pieces for two chalumeaux (or flutes), five trumpets
and four timpani. This work was dedicated to the Russian tsarina Catherine
II; Starzer worked at her court in St Petersburg from 1759 to 1767.
Mozart's Divertimento in C (KV 188) has exactly the
same scoring, except that the clarinets played here are not mentioned
as alternatives for the flutes. The decision to use clarinets is a bit
of a shame; I would have liked to hear whether the trumpeters can play
as softly as the flutes. Although it is from Mozart's pen it
is a rather obscure work. It is telling that on the internet I could
find only one recording on a single disc.
The most curious piece is the incidental music from the opera Caesar
Augustus by Placidus Fixlmillner, written for the theatre in the
Kremsmünster Monastery in Upper Austria. He was a Benedictine monk and
a famous astronomer in his time. As a composer he seems to be a completely
unknown quantity; he has no entry in New Grove and in the Wikipedia
article his activities in this field are not mentioned. This piece is
especially interesting in that he has added many detailed playing instructions
for the timpani part.
The remainder of the programme is filled with Aufzüge or fanfares.
These root in the tradition of the use of trumpets as military instruments.
The 6 Moderne Aufzüge by Johann Baptist Schiedermayr, for instance,
have the indication "for the use at large festivities and Corpus
Christi". The anonymous pieces and those by Salieri are of the
same character. The pieces by Weber are from the archive of the Kremsmünster
Monastery; one of them is an anonymous arrangement. Both include a part
for a posthorn, the instrument Mozart used in a solo role in his Posthorn
One piece still needs to be mentioned: the Vorstellung einer musikalischen
Seeschlacht (Representation of a musical sea battle) by Ferdinand
Donninger. It "depicts the formation for the battle with use of
marches and parades. Conclusion and climax are formed by the actual
'naval battle' where separately placed timpani and drums
imitate the cannon and musket fire". It comprises of five sections;
each of them is introduced with a text read by Hannes Eichmann in German.
There is no translation in the booklet. I am curious to know where this
text comes from. It is about the Battle of Actium between Octavian and
Mark Antony, the lover of Cleopatra. If this story was originally connected
to the piece it would be a stunning example of anachronism as gunpowder
was only invented long after the demise of the Roman empire.
This is a most interesting and intriguing programme with music which
is hardly ever performed. There must be much more, but I can imagine
that a little more than 50 minutes of music for trumpets and timpani
is just enough for many music-lovers. Fortunately there is some variety
in the programme as we hear these instruments in various roles. What
makes this disc even more interesting is that L'arte della trombetta
plays copies of historical instruments. The originals are from the 17th
century. I just wonder whether these are still the most appropriate
instruments for the pieces from the late 18th and the early 19th centuries.
Moreover, it is clear that here the trumpets have vent holes which are
not part of the original instruments but added to modern copies in order
to improve intonation. The French player Jean-François Madeuf specialises
in playing natural trumpets without such additions, and it is to be
hoped that more players will follow in his footsteps. That doesn't
diminish my admiration for the efforts of the trumpeters of this ensemble.
Even with vent holes these instruments are hard to play and they do
an admirable job.
Heinrich Ignaz Franz VON BIBER (1644-1704) Sonata Sancti Polycarpi à 9 [4:21] anon Sonata à 5 Clarini e Organo in C [3:35] Ferdinand DONNINGER (1716-1781) Vorstellung einer musikalischen Seeschlacht* [7:13] Joseph STARZER (1728-1787) Musica da camera molto particulare [7:18] Placidus FIXLMILLNER (1721-1791) Incidental music from 'Caesar Augustus' [1:47] Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Divertimento No. 6 in C (KV 188) [7:47] Antonio SALIERI (1750-1825)
Fanfare No. 8 [1:00]
Fanfare No. 7 [1:11] Carl Maria VON WEBER (1785-1826) Freischütz Marsch (arr. anon) [1:08] Marsch [1:31] anon
Fanfare No. 10 [1:06]
Fanfare No. 11 [0:54]
Fanfare No. 12 [0:38]
Fanfare No. 13 [1:15] Joseph Baptist SCHIEDERMAYR (1779-1840) 6 Moderne Aufzüge [8:42] anon (attr Johann Baptist Schiedermayr) Deutschordens-Marsch [1:52] Hochmeister-Fanfare [1:55]