GRUBER, EÖTVÖS, TURNAGE Hardenberger

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HEINZ KARL GRUBER
Aerial (1998-1999)
Konzert für Trompete und Orchester
Concerto for trumpet and orchestra

PETER EÖTVÖS
Jet Stream (2002)
für Trompete und Orchester
for trumpet and orchestra

MARK-ANTHONY TURNAGE
From the Wreckage (2004-2005)
Konzert für Trompete und Orchester
Concerto for trumpet and orchestra
Hĺkan Hardenberger
Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra
Peter Eötvös
Int. Release 03 Jul. 2006
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0289 477 6150 1 DDD GH
20/21 Series
Two world-premiere performances headline this trumpet concertos release on 20/21


Track List

Heinz Karl Gruber (1943 - )
Aerial. Concerto for Trumpet and Orchestra

Peter Eötvös (1944 - )
Mark-Anthony Turnage (1960 - )
Hĺkan Hardenberger, Göteborgs Symfoniker, Peter Eötvös

Total Playing Time 1:02:32

Three enthralling trumpet concertos are performed here by the undisputed king of the instrument . . . More dazzling performances than Hardenberger's are hard to imagine.

. . . powerful works . . .

Hardenberger's sensational playing turns all these turn-of-the-21st-century trumpet concertos into compelling experiences.

The music is dense but intelligible, sonorous yet glitteringly incandescent, and . . . Hardenberger . . . is a breathtaking concerto soloist after the fact. He makes everything sound almost obscenely easy, and plays with a glint in his eye to match the one in his laser-sharp projection. Eötvös conducts with proprietorial insight . . . the Gothenburgers rise to every challenge.

. . . three strong, varied recent concertos . . .

Imaginative on every level . . . each composer seems to derive inspiration from the moody jazz of Miles Davis, yielding an album of atmospheric fantasies . . . There doesn't seem to be anything he can't do with his instrument, but the results aren't circus sounds; the music is deeply sensual, almost tactile, rewarding repeated listening.
"Aerial" has both wit and mystery; "Jet Stream" melds kaleidoscopic brilliance with a bluesy languor; "From the Wreckage" boasts Turnage's characteristic energy and urban color.

This is, quite simply, an amazing recording. Hĺkan Hardenberger, the magician of the trumpet, excels even himself here, in three works of quite different character and extraordinary technical challenges . . . If it is for the Gruber that I am likely to return to it most, I am fairly sure also that I'll listen to the disc all the way through each time.

No musician in modern times has done more than Hardenberger to expand the literature of the classical trumpet.

A new music champion in top form. Hĺkan Hardenberger has always championed contemporary composers and this new disc underlines the breadth of his sympathies . . . Hardenberger undoubtedly has the measure of the piece, as he does of Mark-Anthony Turnage's "From the Wreckage" (2005) -- a compact but eventful work that moves swiftly from resignation to defiance, and with the smouldering flugelhorn writing at the start balanced by the heady ascent for piccolo trumpet at the close of a powerfully cumulative process . . . this release captures a leading trumpeter in music whose demands he surmounts with commanding insight.

A fascinating disc combining brilliant virtuosity and outstanding contemporary works. . . . Mark-Anthony Turnage's "From the Wreckage" moves from desolation to assertive hope, with compact orchestration, lyric passages of great beauty, and raucous jazz rhythms . . . Hardenberger is amazing throughout all three works, playing a variety of instruments . . . This one's not just for trumpet aficionados, it will intrigue anyone interested in the best of the current contemporary classical scene.

Hoch über den Deutungsangeboten der Komponisten entfaltet Hĺkan Hardenberger die Klangmöglichkeiten seines Instruments, gelegentlich auch auf Bruchstücken davon. Hier wird die Trompete selbst zu Musik.

. . . l'ensemble surprend . . . par son apparente homogénéité. La pate sonore de Hakan Hardenberger y contribue en partie, mais on se rendra compte que c'est avant tout le traitement idiomatique de la trompette qui rapproche ces pičces: virtuosité, brillance et couleurs jazzy . . . l'interprčte dédicataire est amené ŕ compléter la palette avec un bugle dont il obtient le plus grand veloute.

Muy recomendable para oídos exigentes.

    Trumpet Topographies

Hardenberger plays concertos by Gruber, Eötvös and Turnage

Although the trumpet was in on the birth of the concerto in 17th-century Italy, until quite recently its regular repertoire has numbered only a small handful of works in the genre. But this body of works has been greatly enlarged in the last few years, thanks to the emergence of a new generation of talented and imaginative solo trumpeters - among them the Swedish virtuoso Hĺkan Hardenberger, for whom two of the three concertos on this disc were written. Although the three differ greatly in language and approach, they have in common untraditional formal schemes indicated by poetic rather than abstract titles, spectacularly challenging solo parts, and large orchestral forces, brilliantly used - the trumpet being one of the few solo instruments forceful enough to stand up to a symphony orchestra in full cry. All three also reflect the trumpet's alter ego as a jazz instrument, in jazz-like turns of phrase and colouring, especially through the use of different mutes, and more generally in the creative contribution made to each work by the soloist.

HK Gruber was born and educated in Vienna, and played double bass in orchestras and ensembles before enlarging his portfolio to include cabaret singing, conducting and composing. His music makes serious points with allusions to many different traditions and more than a touch of whimsical humour. Gruber's Aerial was written in 1998 and '99 in response to a commission from the BBC for its annual Proms season, and first performed there in July 1999 by Hĺkan Hardenberger with the BBC Symphony Orchestra conducted by Neeme Järvi. The solo part, conceived in close collaboration with Hardenberger, makes use of various different instruments, mutes and playing techniques, and is matched by a large and colourful orchestra. The title reflects the fact that the work's two contrasting movements, respectively slow and fast and played without a break, offer what Gruber calls "two aerial views". The first is of an imaginary landscape beneath the Northern Lights. Through simultaneous singing and playing, playing without normally essential components of the trumpet, and playing the cow horn, a specially made version of an ancient Swedish instrument, the soloist suggests a magical Nordic incantation; as the orchestra is gradually caught up in this, he turns to the piccolo trumpet and finally the standard instrument. Gruber calls this movement "Done with the compass - Done with the chart!", a quotation from Emily Dickinson's poem Wild Nights, suggesting both the new territory explored in the solo part and, the composer says, "the challenge of hiding complex compositional processes in the background, so that the musical surface flows spontaneously". The second movement offers a view of our planet from space, empty of life but displaying a sign saying "Gone Dancing". The trumpet leads off the dance, evoking the carefree 1930s films of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers; brutal orchestral injections perhaps suggest that the departed humans have left machines in charge; and later in the movement the soloist initiates a skirling Eastern dance, with the orchestra joining in like a giant village band. As this dance reaches its height, the soloist takes up the piccolo trumpet again; and he retains it for a coda with lingering echoes of Fred and Ginger, and a last note played on to resonating piano strings.

Peter Eötvös, born in Transylvania and trained at the Budapest Academy of Music, has enjoyed a distinguished double career as composer and conductor. He spent a formative period as a member of Karlheinz Stockhausen's performing group; and in 1981 at La Scala, Milan he conducted the premiere of Stockhausen's opera Donnerstag aus Licht, in which the composer's son Markus took the central role of Michael, written not for a singer but for a trumpeter. The two were reunited more than two decades later for Jet Stream, commissioned by the BBC, written in 2002, and first performed by Markus Stockhausen with Eötvös and the BBC Symphony Orchestra in London in February 2003. The work is scored for a very large orchestra, including four percussionists and a sampler keyboard, and with three trumpets shadowing the soloist and placed immediately behind him. In this context, the soloist himself is not so much the protagonist of a traditional concerto as a fixed point of reference among streams of different densities, or in the composer's own words "the eye of the storm". Thus, in the opening section, while the orchestra gradually builds up a dense continuum of whirling currents and cross-currents of sound, the soloist maintains his own line, beginning in the lowest register of the instrument and rising to the top of its compass. As the storm abates, the soloist gradually comes to the fore, with his three orchestral companions; and eventually he is given the opportunity to play an extended cadenza of his own devising (none of it is notated in the score) over a gentle wash of orchestral sound. He emerges from this into a long, expressive cantilena against a sustained orchestral background, after which the textures become more fragmented. A second accompanied cadenza, this time fully composed and including the orchestral trumpets, sparks off a closing section, which eventually dies away into the ether.

Mark-Anthony Turnage, widely recognized as one of the leading British composers of his generation, has worked extensively with jazz musicians, and brings a similarly co-operative approach to bear on his classical compositions. From the Wreckage, a joint commission of the BBC, the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra and the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, was written for Hĺkan Hardenberger, and the solo part, including one improvised passage left open in the score, was devised in collaboration with him. The work was drafted in 2004, tried out privately early the following year in Helsinki, and then extensively revised. Hardenberger gave the premičre in September 2005 in Helsinki (with the Helsinki Philharmonic under Esa-Pekka Salonen), followed by a performance with the same orchestra and conductor at the BBC Proms in London. The work's title is intended to suggest a gradual recovery from the dark period of the composer's life in which some of the material was first sketched - the progress of that recovery measured by passages of "ticking" snare-drums from four percussionists placed around the orchestra as if on a giant clock-face, and charted by the soloist's use in turn of the mellow flugelhorn, the standard trumpet and the high piccolo trumpet. After a spiky opening, the piece establishes a lyrical but desolate mood, then accelerates in stages, by way of one "delicate" episode and another underpinned by jazzy pizzicato basses, to a passage in which the trumpet rides over the full orchestra. The tempo relaxes for a dialogue between trumpet and flute, before a more agitated episode with improvising trumpet begins a second wave of acceleration, culminating in raucous ragtime rhythms and battering repeated wind chords. Bells ring out from all directions to herald a coda in which the soloist muses on an earlier melody, now in the highest register of the piccolo trumpet and still striving upwards.
Anthony Burton

4/2006