Tintomara is a character from 18th-century Swedish literature who, if not exactly Janus-like, has a dichotomous purpose in projecting the essence and ambiguity of male and female traits. Such is the conceit lying at the heart of Folke Rabe’s short but witty duo of this name for trumpet and trombone. But, fear not, this disc fires this single conceptual shot only to kindle the imagination as to how two ‘heavy’ brass instruments – performed by two exceptional musicians from the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Amsterdam – can play gentle havoc with expectation.
There is indeed little that these players cannot project in terms of multifaceted lyricism, colour and dramatic presence, and this is matched by the very best in modern brass programming. Starting from the seemingly innocuous but deft flightiness of three Purcell arrangements (delivered with nonchalant stylishness and balance alongside delicate theorbo and recorders), Wim Van Hasselt and Jorgen van Rijen appear to find a golden thread to weave through remarkably diverse musical traditions.
How we shift so easily from Rabe to the extensive Parisian musings of Jean-Michel Damase with mellifluous élan is down to the age-old of tactic of preparation, tension and resolution – and the programming moves in large waves on this broad ideal. Damase’s generic conservatoire campus fare slightly overstays its welcome but skilfully sets up the more challenging works with the necessary comfort to hold the listener through Martijn Padding’s dense encyclopedia of trumpeting wizardry.
The same process is undertaken in the final triptych, where a newly claimed transformation of Ravel’s Passacaille from the Piano Trio, sounding wonderfully idiomatic, leads into the devastatingly effective Slipstream by Florian Magnus Maier – a creative process of electronic recycling where van Rijen uses and re uses material he’s just played to accompany himself as he proceeds. This taut crossover ‘ensemble’ piece created by a solo player fits like a glove into the traditional brass finale, Eastwind, which is nothing short of a hoot. All the facets of this project are outstanding and it starts with a dazzling sound.