Eötvös; Gruber; Turnage Orchestral Works with Trumpet
Håkan Hardenberger has always championed contemporary composers and this new disc underlines the breadth of his sympathies. Of the works written for him, HK Gruber’s Ariel (1999) leaves the more equivocal impression: partly because its two movements follow too similar a formal trajectory – despite the greater foreground activity of the second – but also because the translucent waves of sound, blues-inflected harmonies and, latterly, dance rhythms neither provoke a visceral reaction nor evoke any deeper resonance. Hardenberger undoubtedly has the measure of the piece, as he does of Mark-Anthony Turnage’s From the Wreckage (2005) – a compact but eventful work that moves swiftly from resignation to defiance, and with the smouldering flugelhorn writing at the start balanced by the heady ascent for piccolo trumpet at the close of a powerfully cumulative process.
Peter Eötvös is typically adroit in his shaping of the often intricate orchestral writing, not least that of his own Jet Stream (2002). This exhilarating piece was written for Markus Stockhausen – heard in commanding form on the all-Eötvös disc listed – but Hardenberger is no less focused in his approach (thus the imaginative restraint of his improvised cadenza at 8'03"), and the less immediate but more refined sound balance makes appreciably more of Eötvös’s fastidious scoring. While the earlier disc remains a fine introduction to the music of a major creative figure, this release captures a leading trumpeter in music whose demands he surmounts with commanding insight.