The hunters in the forest blow their horns excessively. The flute plays pastoral songs. Strings – sensitive artists par excelence – play intimate and virtuosic literature with depth. Images that we associate with romantic music.The trumpet player, however, sits mounted on his horse amidst the killing field and balloons his cheeks as he sounds the charge. The trumpet in actual practice: sooner serves the goal rather than art. That may explain why the major Romantic composers ignored the trumpet as a solo-instrument in the 19th century, although the technical possibilities of the instrument had increased enormously due to the invention of the valves. In the orchestra literature, the trumpet was always given the role of signal-horn; the versatile musical possibilities remained unutilised for a long time.
Total time: 01:00:08
Sphinx by Merging
Sonodore, DPA 4006, Neumann U87 and TLM 170
|Original Recording Format|
Johannes Church Oosthem Holland
|Recording Type & Bit Rate|
|Release Date||September 19, 2015|
A world-renowned advocate for the trumpet, Fritz Damrow’s career began with his appointment at the tender age of 21 to the post of principal trumpet for the Radio Symphony Orchestra of the Netherlands. Later, he became the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra Amsterdam’s principal trumpet, a prestigious position he held from 1993 to 2010. He also played as soloist with the Concertgebouw Orchestra, Symfonietta Amsterdam and many other orchestras, and as a chamber player he has worked with the Amsterdam Bach soloists and the Netherlands Wind Ensemble. Damrow is Professor of trumpet at the University of Arts in Zürich and holds Master Classes all over the world.
Together with his very dedicated pianist, Eri Hayase, Damrow has compiled a fascinating album of fine music from the late Romantic period which illustrates the emotional and technical range of the modern valve trumpet, even in the intimacy of a chamber recital. As the booklet notes say, despite the lack of interest in a solo part for the trumpet by composers such as Beethoven, Mendelssohn and Strauss, trumpeters were compensated quite well by the works of unknown or poorly-known composers, often from the former Soviet Union in the first half of the C20th.
One might think that most of the music for trumpet and piano would be transcriptions, but of the seven programmed items, only two appear to be transcriptions (these attributions are not given in the notes). These are Bruch’s Kol Nidrei for cello and orchestra, and Reinhold Glière’s Concerto for Coloratura Soprano in fine transcriptions by Timofei Dokschitser, well-known in the trumpet world. These are the “biggest” works on the disc. One might think that much of their colour would be drained by such compression, and that their original solo instruments would be hard to replace with a trumpet.
No such thing; I was entranced by Damrow’s deeply expressive and technically secure renditions, especially his capture of the dramatic as well as the elegiac characters of Kol Nidrei. He demonstrates luscious cantabile and grandiloquent “vocal” virtuosity in parts 1 and 2 respectively of the Glière. If you want to hear the originals, go to Bruch: Pieces for Cello and Orchestra – Kleinhapl and Komsi, Anu – Coloratura. In Eri Hayse’s capable hands, Dokschitser’s accompanying piano parts are projected as orchestrally-coloured as she and her warm-toned Yamaha piano can make them.
The rarely-heard pieces for trumpet and piano are often revelatory; all of them, even the little ‘Album Leaf’ from Glazunov, are of very good to high quality. They also have plenty of good tunes, and the duo make the most of them. The Russian pieces, in particular, have sterling piano parts – giving more than a nod to Rachmaninov – which Hayse clearly relishes. Damrow shows that the trumpet can be nearly as expressive as a violin, with golden tones and a light touch, floating melodies and fully controlled bravura.
As a well-placed finale, Tómas Garcia Coronel provided his sonic feast of “Three Concert Exercises for trumpet and piano”, well-known to trumpeters (and those in ear-shot of them!). Damrow is brilliant here, with dazzling runs and ornaments, fully meeting the technical challenges of the composer. Capping it all, the final exercise is a whirling scherzo of crushed notes, totally irreverent and full of overt mischief. At a concert, this would surely bring a standing audience and cries of “Bravo”.
In presenting this edifying, amusing and sometimes astonishing programme, Jos Boerland’s DSD capture in a glowing church acoustic sounds “right” from the first notes. In 5.1 the trumpet opens up to be thrillingly augmented by the building’s response, while the balance with the piano (piano and trumpet being a very difficult balance to get right) works very well, with no threats of either instrument overwhelming the other. The distinctive warm sound of the Yamaha piano complements bright upper harmonics of the trumpet nicely, giving a very natural sound.
Damrow and Hayase’s album certainly makes a sterling case for the Romantic trumpet, however it might have been ignored by the great Romantic composers. Trumpeters will certainly want to have this disc, and previously string-led chamber music fans will surely find it an excellent investment. Highly recommended – and great fun.
Copyright © 2013 John Miller and HRAudio.net
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