Sound the Trumpet
The distinctive quality of English trumpet writing of the late seventeenth century is most gloriously evident in Purcell’s music for court and stage (as well as a Te Deum and Jubilate) though as Peter Holman – that inimitable scavenger of lost reputations – can report, there is much besides. Certainly, specialists like Crispian Steele-Perkins and the two soloists here, Mark Bennett and Michael Laird, will have encountered music by figures who were largely forgotten as the Handel bandwagon gained momentum through the next century. Holman, as series director of “The English Orpheus” (which with this release reaches Vol. 35), has put together a programme which reinforces the point that there is much besides; the real question is how much of it is more than an antiquarian curiosity, alongside Purcell’s brilliant offerings. Judging by the opening suite by William Corbett, a composer busy in the early years of the eighteenth century, the English mid-baroque has more colour than one would imagine: this is a fine and significant work for two trumpets which deserves many outings.
Whilst the Purcell pieces are grouped together – lest we be tempted to compare him with lesser mortals – we are also treated to three sonatas by Gottfried Finger (the third of which appeared in a Steele-Perkins recording on EMI entitled “Shore’s Trumpet”, 1/88 – nla), who worked in Purcell’s London before leaving after coming fourth to Weldon, Eccles and Daniel Purcell in the famous ‘Judgement of Paris’ competition of 1701. History has since told us what to think about musical competitions, so we need not worry if we discover that some of Finger’s instrumental music is in fact quite competent. Competent, yes, but he is not in the league of Purcell, Croft or Eccles: Finger simply does not employ the trumpet interestingly enough in dialogue or within a sufficiently varied harmonic context.
Whatever the quality of the music, the playing is universally full of spirit and charm. These trumpets sound bright compared with the more intimate, matt-finished tone (which in the hands of a good player gives the articulation a wonderful ‘clucking’ quality) of some instruments, but both trumpeters are on fine form, sounding effortlessly relaxed and beautifully matched, with an enticing sweetness of tone. There are fine contributions from Frank de Bruine and Judy Tarling as well as an invigorated Parley of Instruments. Recommended.'