This is an agreeable collection, but not a distinctive one, even though the playing is of a high calibre. What it may do is to entice inexperienced listeners who fancy the combination of organ and brass, irrespective of repertoire, to explore further. Certainly Bach chorales can be very effective when the cantus firmus is played by trumpet, or the warmer flugelhorn, against Bach's organ decorations. This is especially telling in Wo soll ich fliehen hin (BWV646) and Kommst du nun, Jesu (BWV650), where the organ writing is comparatively florid and played with the lightest touch by Peter Hurford. Equally in Jesu bleibet meine Freude ("Jesu joy of man's desiring"), with the organ playing the basic melisma and the brass group given theRead more chorale, or in the Schübler chorale, Wachet auf, where the whole piece is essentially arranged for brass but with the organ still maintaining a discreet presence, the results are impressive. But perhaps the most striking new look is with Schafe konnen sicher weiden ("Sheep may safely graze"), where trombones intone the chorale, very dignified and stately, and the organ plays the underlying continua.
Apart from Bach, there is the arresting opening Prelude of Charpentier, and some popular favourites too, notably a fine forthright account of Jeremiah Clarke's The Prince of Denmark's March (which used to be called "The Trumpet Voluntary"), while the concert ends with a grandiloquent Minuet from Handel's Royal Fireworks Music, sounding properly regal and producing real splendour in the reprise. Purcell's Trumpet Sonata works well with the organ, but for me the highlight is the novelty of Dandrieu's, Si c'est pour ôter la vie. This begins on two high-voiced trumpets, playing in close harmony, and the sound is captivating; the organ entry brings a more complex treatment of the theme which is hardly less winning and reminds us that Hurford is playing the magnificent organ at Ratzeburg Cathedral, which he has used so tellingly in his solo Bach recordings.
Also very enjoyable are the two Allegros from the four-movement suite selected from organ voluntaries of John Stanley, again featuring the trumpets at their most brilliant. I hope I may be forgiven for saying that I prefer the Bach chorales in their normal formats (especially "Jesu joy of man's desiring", with chorus and oboe obbligato) but that is not to imply that baroque music can't be stimulating when heard in different sonorities. Certainly this collection offers very good sound and I hope it makes new friends for the music.
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