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Both Sides, Now / Hakan Hardenberger, Kenneth Sillito, Academy Of St Martin In The Fields

Hardenberger / Sillito / Pontinen
Release Date: 02/28/2012 
Label:  Bis   Catalog #: 1814  
Composer:  Astor PiazzollaJoni MitchellRichard RodgersSaint-Preux,   ... 
Performer:  Håkan HardenbergerRoland Pöntinen
Conductor:  Kenneth Sillito
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Multi 
Back Order: Usually ships in 2 to 3 weeks.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews

Rewarding in subtle and genteel ways.

This is one of those recordings which you will either deeply love, or which will leave you with perhaps some warm and patchy feelings of nostalgia but not otherwise particularly enamoured. If the latter, you are unlikely to go for it in the first place, but with legion fans of Håkan Hardenberger’s superb playing and almost invariably exciting programming there will be many tempted to try this titbit. You may detect here and there that this is not really my ‘bag’, and I have to admit to not being hugely excited by the kinds of sentiment so warmly purveyed by much of this album. If however, you are not a churlish old purist who prefers original cuts, or you are someone who
Read more delights in quietly expressed heart-on-sleeve romanticism, then this may be right up your street.
 
The booklet notes declare that, having earned his reputation as a trailblazer, “finally the time has come for Håkan Hardenberger to indulge his audience, and himself, with some of the greatest melodies ever written.” If you like your music sweet and slow, then this is like a hot steamy bath with added oils at the end of a tiring day. With this recording you can indeed immerse and indulge in fifty minutes of unchallenging, beautifully performed music, and I would be the last person in the world to deny you your pleasure. Hardenberger’s ability to sing with his instrument is given free rein in every song here. He is a model of good taste and restraint, like every good vocalist, even when he does let rip you always have the feeling he retains a little in reserve.
 
There are some nice changes of timbre here and there. The Kurt Weill tune Speak Low is played with a mute, making the trumpet sound a little as if it was coming through the horn of an old 78 rpm acoustic record player. The subtly placed piano notes are a nice little touch in this arrangement as well. The programme selection is driven by music which appears in, or was written for films. Pianist and collaborator Roland Pöntinen, whose exploits in this field has already been proven with his marvellous Pianorama album for BIS, made many of the orchestrations for this album, and Hardenberger credits him with ‘freeing his own musical imagination.’ For me the Pianorama album works better, as there is a greater sense of improvisatory invention and contrast. With Both Sides, Now the emphasis is very much on the elegiac, which is all well and good, but becomes a bit samey after rather a short time.
 
The magic in this album is, if you are prepared to listen, in the detail. Pöntinen’s harmonic solutions in the orchestrations are often very sophisticated, and create something new from each song rather than trying to re-create ‘something like’ the original. Atmosphere is crucial, and the Academy of St Martin in the Fields strings are warmly responsive to the arranger’s intentions in each case. Depending on your Hi-Fi set-up, you may find yourself wishing the trumpet sound was a little more recessed in relation to the strings, which are present but make too little impact - especially in stereo and through smaller speakers. The little countermelodies in something like the title track Both Sides, Now aren’t equal enough to the solo, and the musical conversation never really gets going. Hardenberger’s trumpet is always worth listening to, and there would perhaps have been more moments you could have forgotten it was a trumpet if there had been just a little more air between him and us. His range of expression is tremendous however, and there is no mistaking the mood of each number. I love the thinning out of texture you get in moments such as the passages with trumpet and pizzicato bass, in My Funny Valentine for instance, and the opening of The Seagull. The Andante pour trompette is a fascinating little piece as well, written by Hardenberger’s teacher Pierre Thibaud. Lyrical tone and phrasing are superlative throughout. With the SACD surround layer the sound does open out significantly, the acoustic taking on a more prominent role and making the string contribution more all-embracing.
 
I hope this release does really well and rides high in the charts. It is true to its intentions and rewarding in subtle and genteel ways which will grow on you when the lights have dimmed and the children have been packed off to boot-camp. I could have wished for a bit more grit, smoke and swearing, but that’s just me.
 
-- Dominy Clements, MusicWeb International
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Works on This Recording

1.
Enrico IV: Oblivion by Astor Piazzolla
Performer:  Håkan Hardenberger (Trumpet)
Conductor:  Kenneth Sillito
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1984; Argentina 
2.
Both Sides Now by Joni Mitchell
Performer:  Håkan Hardenberger (Trumpet)
Conductor:  Kenneth Sillito
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields
Period: Modern 
Written: 1968 
3.
Babes in arms: My funny valentine by Richard Rodgers
Performer:  Håkan Hardenberger (Trumpet)
Conductor:  Kenneth Sillito
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1937; USA 
4.
Andante by Saint-Preux
Performer:  Håkan Hardenberger (Trumpet)
Conductor:  Kenneth Sillito
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields
5.
The Seagull by Jan Lundgren
Performer:  Håkan Hardenberger (Trumpet)
Conductor:  Kenneth Sillito
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields
6.
One touch of Venus: Speak Low by Kurt Weill
Performer:  Håkan Hardenberger (Trumpet)
Conductor:  Kenneth Sillito
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1943; New York, USA 
7.
Je vivrai sans toi by Michel Legrand
Performer:  Håkan Hardenberger (Trumpet)
Conductor:  Kenneth Sillito
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields
Period: 20th Century 
Written: France 
8.
Angels in America: Main theme by Thomas Newman
Performer:  Håkan Hardenberger (Trumpet)
Conductor:  Kenneth Sillito
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields
9.
The Mission: Gabriel's Oboe by Ennio Morricone
Performer:  Håkan Hardenberger (Trumpet)
Conductor:  Kenneth Sillito
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1986; Italy 
10.
The Godfather: The Godfather Waltz by Nino Rota
Performer:  Håkan Hardenberger (Trumpet)
Conductor:  Kenneth Sillito
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields
Period: Modern 
Written: 1972 
11.
Elegy for Trumpet and Piano "To Erna" by Rolf Wallin
Performer:  Roland Pöntinen (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1983; Sweden 

Sound Samples

Oblivion
Both Sides, Now (arr. R. Pontinen)
Babes in Arms (arr. T. Stevens): Babes in Arms: My Funny Valentine (arr. T. Stevens)
Andante for Trumpet (arr. R. Pontinen)
The Seagull (arr. R. Pontinen)
One Touch of Venus (arr. R. Pontinen): One Touch of Venus: Speak Low (arr. R. Pontinen)
Les parapluies de Cherbourg: Sans Toi
Angels in America (arr. R. Pontinen)
The Mission (arr. T. Brostrom): The Mission: Gabriel's Oboe (arr. T. Brostrom)
The Godfather (arr. T. Brostrom): The Godfather: Waltz - Love Theme (arr. T. Brostrom)
Elegy (arr. for trumpet and orchestra)

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