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- Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Wind players (piffari, Stadtpfeiffern) were a peripatetic bunch in the 16th and 17th Century, often chasing the crops of compositions from court to court. Organs, on the other hand, have a decided tendency to stay put. Since 'pitch' was as local as sundial-time in the era, problems of compatibility were common. Organ pitch in Venice, for instance, was about A466, while in Florence it was a step and in Rome a step and a half lower. When a trumpeter and an organist came together for music-making, often someone had to transpose. These problems of pitch are informatively discussed in the notes of "The Art of the baroque Trumpet, Vol. 2", which features composition for organ solo, organ and trumpet, organ and two trumpets, and organ with trumpet and bassoon. If you're interested in such esoteric matters, you have merely to purchase the CD and read for yourself.
The tracks on this CD by Frescobaldi, Sweelinck, and Michelangelo Rossi are complex fantasies for organ alone. The organ played here is a mean-tone instrument with air supplied by two bellows, pitched at A460, with two manuals, 21 stops, and 1113 pipes. It resides in the north transept of the Haga Church in Göteborg, Sweden, where it has been since ... 1991! It was built to order by John Brombaugh of Eugene, Oregon, modeled after seventeenth century German organs. A similar Brombaugh organ is in captivity in a church in Berkeley, California. The "Toccata settima" of M. Rossi is a magnificent piece of music, worth the price of this bargain CD ten times all by itself. It's also a stunning example of the implications of quarter-comma meantone tuning for consonance, affective dissonance, expressive chromaticism, and sequential modulation. Even listeners whose ears have been co-opted by piano scales all their lives should be able to hear the difference. I can't think of better evidence for the necessity of performing keyboard music written FOR meantone instruments On meantone instruments. It's simply more exciting.
Trumpeter Niklas Eklund plays a trumpet with finger holes; his thoughts about the tuning of natural and 'baroque' trumpets are also expressed in the CD notes. On several tracks, he is joined by trumpeter Marc Ullrich and/or bassoonist Mats Klingfors; the two trumpet anonymous Sinfonia is perhaps the most flamboyant display of 'chops' on the recording.
All of the pieces on ABT v2 are from the 17th Century, the century during which the trumpet established itself as a consort and concerto-worthy instrument rather than a mere fanfare extravagance for princes. Even as late as Gabrieli and Monteverdi, trumpets were expected only to play the limited natural notes of their harmonic progression, even in their 'clarino' upper range. In the 16th C, the trombone (clearly evolved from the slide trumpet of Medieval times) and the cornetto had teamed up to dominate the winds. (Don't confuse the cornetto with the later cornet!) The leading exponent of treating the trumpet as a 'complete' instrument was Girolamo Fantini (1600-c1675), the most famous trumpeter of Italy, represented by two sonatas on this CD. In general, this music represents a repertoire in transition and an instrument in even more marked transition to keep up with the music.
There are five volumes in this set of performances. I've already reviewed Vol 1, which features trumpet concertos and sonatas by Telemann, Handel, Purcell and others, played by Eklund and the Drottningholm Baroque Ensemble, on authentic instruments of the baroque. Volume 3, which I'll review next, features Eklund's trumpet matched gloriously with the soprano voice of Susanne Rydén.