Trumpet Concertos (CD review)

Music of Haydn, Handel, Hummel, Albinoni, Hertel, and Telemann. Maurice Andre, trumpet. Riccardo Muti, Philharmonia Orchestra; Sir Charles Mackerras, English Chamber Orchestra; Herbert von Karajan, Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. EMI Classics 7243-5-62947-2-1.

Maurice Andre has been playing and recording the trumpet for about as long as anybody, and his many recordings point up one thing in common: the man's unflagging refinement. The various concertos on this "Great Artists of the Century" CD from EMI confirm the notion.

The star of the show is the Haydn Trumpet Concerto, which Andre has recorded perhaps a half a dozen times. The performance in this collection dates from 1984, with Riccardo Muti and the Philharmonia Orchestra. I'm not sure why EMI chose the Muti when there was an even newer one available, but it suffices. Andre seems poised and relaxed, presenting the music in a most temperate manner, and the result appears the utmost in polish and repose. Not that it doesn't show its high spirits in the final movement, Vivace, but it basically maintains its grace under fire.

Maurice Andre
I would personally not buy Andre's performance of the Haydn as a first choice in this repertory, mind you, but in this collection it does nicely. For stronger recommendations in the Haydn alone, I would go with Hardenberger, Marriner, and the Academy (Philips); Schwarz and the Y CO (Delos); Marsalis, Leppard, and the National Philharmonic (Sony); or, maybe best of all, Berinbaum, Somary, and the English Chamber Orchestra (Vanguard).

The other works on Andre's album are similarly elegant: Trumpet concertos from Albinoni, Handel, and Hertal (with Mackerras and the ECO); and Telemann and Hummel (with Karajan and the BPO). I have to admit that I find some of the material here a little mundane, a little less than scintillating, but there is no questioning the vitality of the Haydn and Hummel, which open and close the collection. Nor is there any question about Andre's dignified way of handling all of it with equal aplomb.

EMI released the present collection in 2005, with most of the recordings remastered in 1999. The overall tonal balance is remarkably similar in the six different recordings, warm and clear, with a touch of reverberation to lend a semblance of reality to the occasion. I did, however, find the position of Andre's trumpet varying a bit, from well left of center to center. I enjoyed the sound of the Berlin Philharmonic best of all for its integration of soloist and orchestra, but one should find pleasure throughout the disc.

JJP

To listen to a brief excerpt from this album, click here:


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John J. Puccio

John J. Puccio

About the Author

Understand, I'm just an everyday guy reacting to something I love. And I've been doing it for a very long time, my appreciation for classical music starting with the musical excerpts on The Big John and Sparkie radio show in the early Fifties and the purchase of my first recording, The 101 Strings Play the Classics, around 1956. In the late Sixties I began teaching high school English and Film Studies as well as becoming interested in hi-fi, my audio ambitions graduating me from a pair of AR-3 speakers to the Fulton J's recommended by The Stereophile's J. Gordon Holt. In the early Seventies, I began writing for a number of audio magazines, including Audio Excellence, Audio Forum, The Boston Audio Society Speaker, The American Record Guide, and from 1976 until 2008, The $ensible Sound, for which I served as Classical Music Editor.

Today, I'm retired from teaching and use a pair of bi-amped VMPS RM40s loudspeakers for my listening. In addition to writing the Classical Candor blog, I served as the Movie Review Editor for the Web site Movie Metropolis (formerly DVDTown) from 1997-2013. Music and movies. Life couldn't be better.

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It is the goal of Classical Candor to promote the enjoyment of classical music. Other forms of music come and go--minuets, waltzes, ragtime, blues, jazz, bebop, country-western, rock-'n'-roll, heavy metal, rap, and the rest--but classical music has been around for hundreds of years and will continue to be around for hundreds more. It's no accident that every major city in the world has one or more symphony orchestras.

When I was young, I heard it said that only intellectuals could appreciate classical music, that it required dedicated concentration to appreciate. Nonsense. I'm no intellectual, and I've always loved classical music. Anyone who's ever seen and enjoyed Disney's Fantasia or a Looney Tunes cartoon playing Rossini's William Tell Overture or Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 can attest to the power and joy of classical music, and that's just about everybody.

So, if Classical Candor can expand one's awareness of classical music and bring more joy to one's life, more power to it. It's done its job.

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"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa

"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa