Hakan Hardenberger's second major collection of trumpet concertos for Philips suffers from one drawback only: the two best concertos for the instrument, by Haydn and Hummel, are both on the first disc ((CD) 420 203-2PH, 12/87). However, all five works here are characteristic examples of the eighteenth-century galant style and Hardenberger plays each with his usual breathtaking ease of execution, and cultivated musicianship. In this latest recital he is elegantly and stylishly accompanied by the LPO under Elgar Howarth. The recording is rather better judged than the first disc in terms of resonance, yet has all the bloom and immediacy one could want.
The programme opens with a concerto by Franz Xaver Richter (1709–89) which is notable for its fiendishly high tessitura, ranging up to the written F above high C (sounding G). The soloist—as at his very first appearance—is required to make frequent entries 'out of the blue' on high notes, and the rather agreeable main theme of the opening movement encompasses an octave in its structure. Needless to say Hardenberger relishes the writing, and plays with an easy elegance, picking out the top notes like ripe berries from the top of a bush. The work has an agreeable Andante and a finale which echoes the octave idea of the first movement.
Leopold Mozart's Concerto (in two movements) is more conventional, although it has a robust, tuneful finale, recalling the Handel of the Water Music. Hertel's work has a gracious central Adagio, which involves a quiet, sustained crescendo entry on a long note, which Hardenberger places superbly—the phrase seems to appear out of the air as if by magic. The finale involves rather prettily pointed use of the upper range, calling for crisp, light articulation, and the response here is captivating.
Molter's piece is rather like a concerto grosso with trumpet lead, and again the cantilena of the Andante is demandingly high. Michael Haydn's concerto is even more daunting and is made to sound forward-looking by the use of flutes to add colour and grace to the string texture in the first movement. The finale is contrastingly jolly and full of sparkle. Like the Richter work the solo line floats and leaps around freely in the highest range, making no concessions. Hardenberger clearly enjoys himself (even putting in a bravura cadenza just before the coda), and so do we.'