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