La Trompette Retrouvee - Jonathan Freeman-Attwood - Gramophone

Arthur Butterworth, composer and former principal-trumpet of Barbirolli's Hallé Orchestra, once lamented to me about the restricted use of the trumpet in the 18th-century orchestra, after the guilds of players that created the great Baroque tradition of high trumpeting had disappeared. But in the 20th century - not least with the coming of jazz - the trumpet has sustained a renaissance, and today there is almost nothing a top-class player cannot do within the instrument's range (and even above it). Never better demonstrated than in this highly stimulating recital by Gramophone's own Jonathan Freeman-Attwood with his splendidly responsive partner, Daniel-Ben Pienaar, who constantly illuminates the piano contribution.

The transcription of Chabrier's Pièces pittoresques stands out, full of charm, with the spiccato trumpet in the "Danse villageoise" (a real lollipop) and the galumphing "Scherzo-Waltz" irresistible, so perfectly suited to this instrument. Rameau's Naïs Suite, which opens the programme, is remarkably successful too, stylish and characterful, with moments of real nobility.

Apart from his nimble dexterity, Freeman-Attwood's playing is just as striking for the beauty of his lyrical phrasing and his richness of colour, so well demonstrated by Saint-Saëns's "Romanza", and in the wonderful freedom of his playing in the transcription of Fauré's Violin Sonata No 2, which at times (and specially in the finale) almost convinces one that it was written for the trumpet. I resisted this remarkable arrangement first time through, but on subsequent listenings put prejudice aside and revelled in the sheer musicianship of this splendidly matched duo. They are helped by absolutely natural recording in an ideal acoustic. It sounds first-class on CD equipment; but subtly bring in the back speakers and you will surely "retrieve" the image of the two players together with complete realism. And if you haven't got the equipment yet for SACD, you don't know what you are missing - a truly added dimension in music reproduction in the home!

01 June 2007