Prieres Sans Paroles
The trumpet has played a prominent part in French contemporary music in the last 30 years or so‚ motivated as ever by outstanding executants who inspire composers to plot new graphs. André Jolivet wrote Arioso barocco for the great Maurice André (to make a triptych of trumpet pieces to follow the postwar Concertino and Trumpet Concerto No 2). This is the one truly evocative work‚ ‘Messiaenic’ in its gestating mysteries but still quite distinctive. Håkan Hardenberger (whose own teacher Pierre Thibaud promulgated a rather more direct and epic French trumpet sound than the mellifluous André) presents a typically catholic celebration of this specialised and indigenous virtuoso genre‚ with the trumpet and organ united in the thrilling acoustic of Aarhus Cathedral: finding an agreeable recording perspective within such a reverberant space – one which embraces both the intimate dialogues and bold declamations of Pierre Jansen’s granitelike Processional – takes some doing. The organ is a little recessed in places but it suits the gentle lilt of Damase’s eminently forgettable schmaltz (the socalled Trois prières sans paroles from which the programme takes its title)‚ and the irreverent circuscumloungelizardry of Hakim’s riotous Sonata.
The most gripping sound picture is found in those pieces divulging an effortless cohesion between two doyens of their instruments‚ often at full stretch. Hardenberger’s gleaming high register‚ rasping fortes and floating pianissimo legatos‚ not to mention the quality of tuning where the trumpet is expected to sit unequivocably between the inscrutable partials of Preston’s thoughtful organ registrations‚ is in glorious evidence in Marius Constant’s quizzical Alleluias‚ and Tomasi’s concise and customarily idiomatic Semaine Sainte à Cuzco. One could quibble that Hardenberger’s quick vibrato is a touch predictable but this is an artist setting standards in works which very few other people can actually play. In toto‚ another considerable achievement from this sparkling duo. The programme notes are singularly uninformative.