Classical Trumpet Concertos
These days, instrumentalists are rather like London buses: they rarely come singly, always in a bunch. Cellists proved that view in the early 1980s and, more recently, we have had a spate of brilliant trumpeters. Wynton Marsalis and Hakan Hardenberger now have a German rival, Reinhold Friedrich. A pupil of Edward Tarr, he has been the solo trumpet of the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra for the last ten years and this showcase of three CDs from Capriccio in co-operation with Hesse Radio shows him to be a formidable player, equally at home in the music of Leopold Mozart as he is in that of the present day.
The ''Classical Trumpet Concertos'' disc presents the concertos of Haydn and Hummel, composed at the beginning of the nineteenth century for the newly-developed keyed trumpet of Anton Weidinger, and three concertos for the clarino, or natural trumpet, from some 40 years earlier, two by Haydn's younger brother, Michael, and one by Mozart's father, Leopold. Each of these clarino concertos is in two movements and the high trumpet writing is brilliant and exciting. The music by Haydn and Hummel is, by the nature of the instrument for which it was written, much more lyrical and melodic. Reinhold Friedrich's silvery tone is alertly supported by the Academy of St Martin in the Fields, under Sir Neville Marriner.
The other two discs are of twentieth-century music. ''Modern Trumpet'' opens with Stravinsky's Fanfare for a New Theatre for two trumpets and closes with a piece in his memory: Elliott Carter's Canon for 3, a haunting piece in which each trumpet has a different mute. In between comes a wide variety of solo and chamber music. The most substantial work is Hindemith's Trumpet Sonata in which Friedrich is ably partnered by the pianist Thomas Duis. It's an impressive performance of this fine piece, composed just as the Second World War was starting, and containing an elegy which ends with a reference to the Lutheran chorale Alle Menschen mussen sterben (''All men must die''). Hans Werner Henze's Sonatina for solo trumpet certainly doesn't outstay its welcome. Its three movements barely last four minutes, yet in that time it has plenty to say. Skalkottas's Concertino for trumpet and piano is a very enjoyable piece displaying serialism with a human face. There are welcome opportunities to hear music by Hans Apostel—see if you can spot the allusions—and the Swiss composer, Wilhelm Killmayer, whose aim, according to the accompanying booklet, is to compose translucent music that is not bellowing, sweating, confessing or lamenting. His Tre Pezzi are certainly models of restraint. Finally, a group of three pieces by the Russian composer, Sofia Gubaidulina, of which the most impressive is her Trio, full of fascinating textures and effects. This disc will be much enjoyed by those who want to see what the trumpet is really capable of in the hands of a virtuoso.
The third disc, ''Nobody knows de trouble I see'', takes its title from a piece for trumpet and orchestra by Bernd-Alois Zimmermann. The work is a set of free variations on the Negro spiritual and recalls many musical styles of the inter-war period with its jazzy rhythms and big band sound. Dmitri Kitaienko and the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra prove sympathetic and able partners in this work as they do in Killmayer's The broken Farewell. Berio's Sequenza X for trumpet and silent piano is an imaginative and dramatic work with the trumpet playing into an open piano and exciting resonances from it. Here Friedrich proves to be in complete control of all the tricks and techniques demanded of modern trumpeters. The other works on this disc, a brass quintet by the German composer, Wolfgang Rihm and Four Pieces for solo trumpet by Giancinto Scelsi, are both challenging and stimulating with some rapid changes of mute required in the fourth piece.
All in all, these three discs contain some remarkable, yet little-known, music and some very impressive trumpet-playing by a young man of whom I feel sure we shall hear a lot more.'