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"A Courtly Garland for Baroque Trumpet"

Robert Farley, natural trumpet
Orpheus Britannicus
Dir: Andrew Arthur

rec: Jan 9 - 11, 2017, Cambridge, Chapel of Jesus College
Resonus Classics - RES10220 (© 2018) (79'57")
Liner-notes: E
Cover, track-list & booklet

Heinrich Ignaz Franz VON BIBER (1644-1704): Sonata IV a 5 in C [3]; Sonata X a 5 in g minor [3]; Arcangelo CORELLI (1653-1713): Sonata a 4 in D (WoO 4); Girolamo FANTINI (1600-1675): Corrente della dell'Elce for trumpet and bc [2]; Sonata detta del Colloreto for trumpet and organ in C [2]; Sonata detta del Gonzaga for trumpet and organ in C [2]; Balletto detto il Lunati for trumpet and bc [2]; Gottfried FINGER (c1655-1730): Sonata for trumpet, violin and bc in C; Girolamo FRESCOBALDI (1583-1643): Canzona Ia [1]; Canzona IVa [1]; Andrea GROSSI (c1660-c1696): Sonata a 5 in D, op. 3,11 [5]; Bernardo PASQUINI (1637-1710): Toccataa; Gottfried REICHE (1667-1734): Abblasen in D; Johann Heinrich SCHMELZER (c1620/30-1680): Sonata a 5 in C; Giuseppe TORELLI (1658-1709): Sonata in D (G 6); Giovanni Bonaventura VIVIANI (1638-c1693): Sonata I for trumpet and organ in C [4]; Sonata II for trumpet and organ in C [4]

Sources: [1] Girolamo Frescobaldi, Il secondo libro di toccate, canzone, versi d'hinni, Magnificat, gagliarde, correnti et altre partite d'intavolatura di cembalo et organo, 1627; [2] Girolamo Fantini, Modo per imparare a sonare di tromba, 1638; [3] Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber, Sonatae tam aris quam aulis servientes, 1676; [4] Giovanni Bonaventura Viviani, Capricci armonici da chiesa e da camera, op. 4, 1678; [5] Andrea Grossi, Sonate a due, a trè, quattro, e cinque Instromenti, 1682

Theresa Caudle, Kelly McCusker, violin; Kate Fawcett, Emilia Benjamin, viola; Henrik Persson, bass violin, viola da gamba; Zoe Shevlin, bassoon; Andrew Arthur, harpsichord, organ (soloa)

Music for trumpet and organ is or has been quite popular in modern times. In the second half of the last century in particular the French trumpeter Maurice André, often accompanied by the German organist Hedwig Bilgram, gave many concerts and made several recordings with such repertoire. Obviously a large part of it comprised arrangements: as many concertos were originally scored for trumpet and orchestra, the latter part was transcribed for the organ. However, the combination of trumpet and obbligato organ is not a modern invention. The first performances of such music seems to date from 1634, when two of the most celebrated musicians of their time, the trumpeter Girolamo Fantini and the organist Girolamo Frescobaldi, performed in public in Rome.

The present disc refers to this historical fact through the inclusion of two sonatas for trumpet and organ by Fantini. These are typical products of the new style which emerged in Italy around 1600. In both pieces Fantini makes use of the echo technique which was so popular at the time, and we also find the kind of ornaments which were part of the stile nuovo, such as the trillo. The two other items from Fantini's pen are for trumpet and basso continuo. The latter part is played here at the harpsichord. This is a rather unusual combination, as the harpsichord is much softer than the naturally rather loud trumpet. However, here we immediately notice the advantage of the natural trumpet in comparison to its modern counterpart: it is less loud, and therefore the harpsichord is clearly audible, whereas the modern trumpet would completely drown out its partner.

The trumpet was originally almost exclusively used as a military instrument. Whereas in the early decades of the 17th century numerous virtuosic pieces were written for wind instruments, such as the cornett, the dulcian and the sackbut, no such music was written for the trumpet. It was only in the second quarter of the century that composers started to compose for the trumpet. That had everything to do with the developments in playing technique, as Andrew Arthur observes in his liner-notes: "[As] players began to successfully cultivate the upper clarino register where the harmonics fell closer together, composers increasingly saw an opportunity to employ the instrument's newly found melodic capabilities within concerted instrumental music." Fantini played a crucial role in this development, for instance through his treatise Modo per imparare a sonare di tromba of 1638.

The programme sheds light on the development of composing for the trumpet during the second half of the 17th century. Giovanni Bonaventura Viviani was not a trumpeter himself, but a violinist. He worked for most of his life in Innsbruck, in the service of Emperor Leopold I. The two sonatas for trumpet and organ included here are his only pieces for this scoring. They are written for a trumpet in C rather than the most common trumpet in D. They were published after the composer's return to Italy in 1678.

Andrea Grossi was also a violinist by profession. However, his set of twelve sonatas for two to five instruments and basso continuo, which were published as his Op. 3 in 1682, close with three sonatas which include a part for trumpet; they are all in the key of D major, but the Sonata No. 11 includes harmonic modulations, which are modern for the time. These sonatas were printed in Bologna, and this city played a crucial role in the development of composing for and playing of music for trumpet. One of the main composers of such music was Giuseppe Torelli, who was educated at the violin, but was inspired to write music for trumpet by the virtuoso Giovanni Pellegrino Brandi, who must also have been the interpreter of music by other composers, such as Giacomo Perti, Domenico Gabrielli and Giuseppe Maria Jacchini. Torelli wrote more than thirty concertos for one to four trumpets. Arcangelo Corelli spent some of his formative years in Bologna, and here he must have become acquainted with the trumpet and its music. He himself did not compose any music for other instruments than strings, except the Sonata a 4 in D, which has the form of a sonata da chiesa, including two fugal movements.

The three remaining composers are from the Bohemian/Austrian region. The earliest are Biber and Schmelzer, who were both violinists by profession, and brilliant players and composers at that, but also composed music for trumpet and strings. The two sonatas by Biber are taken from his collection Sonatae tam aris quam aulis servientes, which could be played both as part of the liturgy and during dinner. They are scored for trumpet, violin, two violas, violone and basso continuo. The trumpet parts are certainly demanding, but don't play a solo role; these pieces are basically ensemble sonatas. They are written in the stylus phantasticus, just like Schmelzer's Sonata a 5 in C. It is scored for trumpet, two violins, bassoon and basso continuo. It is notable that not only the trumpet, but also the bassoon plays an obbligato role.

The latest composer in the programme is Gottfried Finger, who was from Bohemia, but made a career in England as a player of the viola da gamba, and was known as Godfrey Finger. The two instruments are partly treated on equal footing, but in some parts of the sonata the violin has clearly the upper hand. It is a late example of the stylus phantasticus, as in the early 18th century, when this sonata seems to have been written, the more formally structured sonata da chiesa, as modelled by Corelli, had become the norm.

The programme opens with the latest music, by probably the most famous trumpeter in history, Gottfried Reiche, for whom Johann Sebastian Bach composed many of the trumpet parts in his sacred vocal music, such as the cantata for soprano and trumpet, Jauchzet Gott in allen Landen. The piece, called Abblasen, is a kind of fanfare, which reminds us of the trumpet's origin as a military instrument.

The programme is rounded off by a number of organ pieces by two of the main keyboard composers of 17th-century Rome, Frescobaldi and Bernardo Pasquini.

As I have already indicated, Robert Farley plays a natural trumpet. It is hard to imagine that this repertoire could be played on a modern trumpet. The balance with the organ, but also with the strings, would be completely wrong, and the ornamentation in the pieces from the early 17th century could not come off as they do here. Playing the natural trumpet is demanding, and Farley is a master at his instrument. He fully meets the challenges of the pieces he has selected for this disc. That said, we should not overlook the fact that his instrument is a compromise between the historical and the modern. It has fingerholes in order to improve the intonation, but the instruments of the 17th and early 18th centuries did not have such aids. The French trumpeter Jean-François Madeuf specializes in playing instruments without such holes, and one would wish that this technique would be universally applied.

However, in no way that diminishes my appreciation of this disc. I have greatly enjoyed what is on offer here, and the performances of Farley and the ensemble Orpheus Britannicus are impressive. Everyone who likes music for trumpet should not miss this fine disc.

Johan van Veen (© 2018)

Relevant links:

Orpheus Britannicus

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