Aerial … Jet Stream … From the Wreckage

0 of 5 stars

Aerial [Concerto for trumpet and orchestra]
Jet Stream [for trumpet and orchestra]
From the Wreckage [Concerto for trumpet and orchestra]

Håkan Hardenberger (trumpet)

Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra
Peter Eötvös

Recorded at the Gothenburg Concert Hall in 2004 (Eötvös) and 2005

Reviewed by: David Gutman

Reviewed: August 2006
CD No: DG 477 6150
Duration: 63 minutes

The common thread here, on this 20/21 release, is the uncommon artistry of Håkan Hardenberger, dedicatee of two out of the three pieces. Jet Stream was written for that other modern trumpet luminary, Markus Stockhausen and it begins with a deliberate raspberry. As a matter of course, one anticipates from the Swedish protagonist a display of extravagantly extended playing techniques and amazing dexterity on multiple instruments. It’s the staying power of the music as such which may be in doubt.

HK Gruber’s piece, one of the hits of the 1999 BBC Proms, is the most extended, a typically weird construct, in which the first movement, pale and eerie, evokes a landscape under Northern Lights. Hardenberger is kept busy, playing on cow horn, piccolo trumpet and a conventional instrument minus some of its essential parts. The idiom is unexpected too, sometimes recalling the postludial fragility of Silvestrov. But then the second panel takes us back to more predictable HK territory, a maddeningly inconsequential romp through 1930s’ dance forms with virtuoso frills. Hardenberger ends the piece by walking to the piano and playing a single resonating note, a dramatic effect somewhat muted on disc.

Peter Eötvös’s contribution as composer is at once more modern, in the old sense, and easier to follow, with the soloist a fixed point of reference among sound streams of different densities. Included in the mix is an effective electronic component and sections that allow the soloist freer rein to improvise.

Closer to Miles Davis than Stockhausen, Turnage’s score is instantly recognisable as his own but in its jazzy melancholia lacks anything very new save the percussive ticking effect that punctuates its recovery from the abyss. The soloist takes up three instruments in turn as the mood brightens – flugelhorn, trumpet and piccolo trumpet.

All the playing, including that of the orchestra, feels highly committed. Anthony Burton’s notes are extremely helpful and the sound is good too. Those with an interest in the instrument will not hesitate.

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