Notes and Editorial Reviews
We have here two whopping 6 CD boxes devoted to the Maestro of trumpeters, that squat artisan of instrumental and executant genius, Maurice André.
(See Volume 1)
He was born in 1933, and for getting on for half a century – from roughly 1953 to his retirement in 2003 – he was both a discographic pioneer and an omnipresent figure on the record racks. Though he tended to be wary of too many modern works and commissions, his forte was the high trumpet, the four valve piccolo on which he launched a one-man blitzkrieg on the eighteenth century repertoire. The results of his Erato work are housed in these two box sets. There are some familiar old friends
here, including some duplication of repertoire, adeptly and unproblematically transferred with brief but admiring booklet notes.
The second box starts with a favourite vehicle, the Hummel Concerto with its typically assured poise and immaculate technique on display – so too the mellifluous cantilena of the slow movement. Johann Melchior Molter features strongly in this disc. He can be rather a showy composer but at his best he has a quirky, rocketing imagination that is hard to resist. As an example of the former quality we have the opening of his D major for solo trumpet but try the brilliant central movement of the concerto for two trumpets for the latter characteristic. We have another traversal of Haydn’s concerto here, as well as some stratospheric playing in Michael Haydn’s Concerto. It’s good to be introduced to the little known charms of Francesco Biscogli in the second disc. With front line companions – oboe and bassoon – there’s certainly a loquacious, conversational patina. The Telemann Concerto here – self-directed with the Wiener Solisten – is not a patch on the ASMIF version in Volume 1. André was a particularly expressive channel through which Albinoni’s lyricism flowed, as the interesting violin derived Concerto shows; the accompanists are Ristenpart and his Saar Radio forces.
It’s hard to appreciate the exceptional breath control evinced by André, though perhaps the Vivaldi-attributed Concerto that opens CD3 might at least provoke thought. The column of breath seems infinite; it’s like circular breathing on the saxophone. Despite the plethora of marvellous things a set, or sets, such as this will inevitably throw up duds. It’s undeniable that listening straight through is not an experience to be enjoyed, and nor would one want to. Henri Hamal’s Concerto in D is an example of generic baroquerie and the performance of the Brandenburg Concerto in this disc, despite the sterling support of Barchet and Pierlot is, under Kurt Redel, too much of a jog-trotty experience. Don’t spurn the Vivaldi though, with which this particular disc ends – RV 556, a concerto for two violins, two recorders, two oboes and two trumpets and a splendid example of melodic distribution.
A slew of Telemann opens the fourth disc – Teldec recordings from 1964 with Frans Brüggen. Gustav Leonhardt is the harpsichordist and Jaap Schröder led Concerto Amsterdam for these hugely persuasive readings. The ensuing recordings by Vivaldi, Handel, Tessarini and Veracini are almost all violin sonata originals. Paillard is again on hand. The results are rhythmically buoyant, staunchly supported and played with customary élan and superior stylistic affinity. A hint of the suave perhaps creeps into the playing of the Fasch Concerto that opens CD5. But Brüggen’s support proves efficacious in the two Torelli Concertos, where André is warmly expressive. Lovers of relative obscurities will warm to Domenico Zipoli, whose Suite is a highlight and the sonorities of whose four movement work are ravishingly deployed by Paillard and his forces. The Aria is a real delight. Make for Zipoli; he refutes the by-rote expectations you may have of little known composers flourishing in the first two decades of the eighteenth century. The Bellini with which this penultimate disc ends is as modern as things get. Vocalised lyricism is to the fore and virtuoso frolics as well in the finale.
The final disc of this two box, 12 CD survey, reunites the trumpeter with Marriner and the ASMIF for two of Purcell’s sonatas. There’s also the fearsome, awe-inspiring meeting of André with three other leading French trumpeters for Torelli’s Sinfonia a 4 – a spectacular affair. With his colleague Bernard Gabel we continue the collegiate theme of trumpet summits – this time the two-trumpet Sonata and Sinfonia of Alberti, and the multiple line up asked for by Telemann in his Concerto for three trumpets, two oboes, timpani, strings and continuo.
These exhaustive boxes are never exhausting. They serve as an index of the trumpeter’s fabulous chops, but also his sense of fantasy and imagination, his concern for colour, and his spurning of velocity and virtuosity for their own sakes. A master class, still, in many ways. --
Jonathan Woolf, MusicWeb International
Works on This Recording
Work(s) by Various
Maurice André (Trumpet)
Paillard Chamber Orchestra
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