Trumpet Concertos/ Concertos Pour Trompette
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Considered to be one of the best trumpeters of his generation, Paul Merkelo is reputed for his “unusual lyrical gifts” (Gramophone). With the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal, he presents three rarely recorded masterpieces for trumpet and orchestra. One work is by the rigourous Alfred Désenclos, a favourite of the academy. Henri Tomasi by contrast, was ever the pragmatist, eschewing systems and methods in favour of a popular aesthetic. Meanwhile André Jolivet belonged to a movement that valued the spiritual aspect of music. The works presented here offer a nuanced perspective on French musical thought and the growing importance of the solo trumpet in 20th century music. On this recording, Merkelo offers a performance that will cement his reputation as one of the better trumpeters today.
Considéré comme un des meilleurs trompettistes de sa génération, Paul Merkelo est réputé pour «son talent lyrique hors du commun» (Gramophone). Avec l’Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal, il présente trois chefs-d’oeuvre pour trompette et orchestre rarement enregistré. L’une composée par le rigoureux Alfred Désenclos, un favori des académiciens. En revanche, Henri Tomasi, éternel pragmatique, rejetait les systèmes et les méthodes pour une esthétique populaire. André Jolivet, lui, faisait partie d’un mouvement qui valorisait la dimension spirituelle de la musique. Les oeuvres sur cet album offrent une perspective nuancée de la pensée musicale française et de l’importance grandissante du répertoire pour trompette solo au 20e siècle. Une fois de plus, Merkelo s’impose avec une prestance digne des plus grands !
Track Listing/ Pistes de l’album :
HENRI TOMASI Concerto pour trompette
ANDRÉ JOLIVET Concerto pour trompette no 2
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
According to the liner notes by Marc Wieser, Desenclos acquired a reputation as a rather "pedagogical" composer, because he wrote so many works for conservatory competitions. From hearing Desenclos' concertante work "Incantation, Threne et Danse" (this reviewer's first experience of any of Desenclos' music), which appears as the second work on this album, that reputation may be somewhat justified. The work is, overall, decently crafted and engaging, but also dutiful-sounding at times, without strongly memorable melodies, although one passage in the finale sounds like a crib from Stravinsky's "The Soldier's Tale".
The first work on the album, Henri Tomasi's Trumpet Concerto, is Tomasi's best known work, granted that Tomasi isn't a standard name on concert programs in general. Some jazz elements are present, and this concerto makes more of an impression by comparison with the Desenclos. However, the Jolivet work, his Trumpet Concerto No. 2, is by far the most immediately engaging of the 3 works here. This work of the three most confidently incorporates jazz elements throughout, from its very start. This is also probably the most familiar, or least unfamiliar, of the 3 works.
Throughout, Merkelo is a splendid advocate, handling the jazz elements in his stride (perhaps appropriate, as Merkelo is American). His colleagues in the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, with the orchestra's current music director, Kent Nagano, provide strong support, as one would expect, to help out "one of their own". Recording quality is very fine, though not made in the St. Eustache church, the home of so many recordings of the orchestra with Charles Dutoit, but rather made in the orchestra's new hall, the Maison symphonique de Montreal.
One catch with this recording is that the total running time is only about 44 minutes, very short measure in the age of the CD. This, in addition to the somewhat erratic quality of the music overall, is what brings down the rating some. My own inclination is 3.5 stars. However, I'll happily round up to 4 stars, because of the quality of the recorded performances, but also because of one endearing bit of background to this album, namely that part of its funding came from a Kickstarter campaign.
You should be aware, though, that there is direct competition for this album on the BIS label, with trumpeter Ole Edvard Antonsen, whose album features the same 3 concertante works that Merkelo has recorded here, but also Jolivet's 'Concertino' and Robert Planel's Concerto for Trumpet and String Orchestra. This adds almost 25 minutes' more of music to the BIS album by comparison.