Trumpets - Jonathan Freeman-Attwood - Brass Review

Three outstanding musicians gather within the majestic splendour of Hereford Cathedral to record an album of transcribed music for two trumpets and organ.

Jonathan Freeman-Attwood is Vice Principal and Director Of Studies at the Royal Academy of Music, London. he also pursues an active freelance trumpet career as both a soloist and member of various ensembles. His CD "Bach Connections" received high acclaim. The BBC Music Magazine described him as a "multi-talented trumpeter, academic and Renaissance man".
Fellow trumpeter on this album John Wallace requires little in the way of introduction. Prior to taking up his current post in 2002 as Principal of the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, he was for the best part of 20 years Principal Trumpet with the Philharmonia Orchestra. He has premièred many contemporary trumpet concertos and is currently researching the history and development of the trumpet for a Yale Press publication.

The third member of the trio, Colm Carey (organ) is a native of Ireland. As a leading organist of the younger generation, he has gained a reputation as a remarkable performer with successful tours to Europe, North America and Australia. His recordings are well documented, having a passion to develop the organ as a chamber instrument, having transcribed many works from different media involving the organ.

The sparse repertoire of original music for trumpet has never satisfied the creative demands of the world's finest artists. Seeking alternative transcriptions led to the inclusion on this album of music by Rheinberger, Strauss and Elgar. Joseph Rheinberger's "Suite for Two Trumpets and Organ Op. 149" was originally composed as a trio for organ, violin and 'cello. An unlikely candidate to transcribe for this combination? Whilst the violin part 'sits' nicely for piccolo trumpet, the Bb trumpet hardly convinces in the role of the 'cello. But there is little doubt that for the most part, this magnificent four-movement work is thoroughly enjoyable. There's some outstanding playing from the two trumpets, with Jonathan Freeman-Attwood's piccolo trumpet soaring to new heights, superbly supported by John Wallace on Bb trumpet. Adding to the outstanding musicality of Rheinberger's 30-minute work is the majestic sounds of the Hereford Cathedral organ and Colm Carey. A true test of stamina.
Brass players associate Richard Strauss with his two horn concertos, but for those acquainted with the orchestral suite "le Bourgeois Gentilhomme" the three movements featured on this album (Minuet de Lully, Courante and Entrèe de Clèonte) make an attractive transcription for piccolo, Eb trumpet and organ.

The final track, Edward Elgar's "Sonata No. 2 Op 87a" features the Eb trumpets of John Wallace and Jonathan Freeman-Attwood. The four movements, Introduction, Toccata, Fugue and Coda are described in the booklet as a hybrid between the "Severn Suite" and the "Organ Sonata No. 2", a kind of 'half-way house' between the world of the organ and brass. Band enthusiasts will find 'familiar territory' on this particular track, no doubt comparing the original brass band work with this version, in the end making up their own minds as to which they prefer.

Outstanding playing from Jonathan Freeman-Attwood and John Wallace, but the transcription from strings to two trumpets in the Rheinberger, with all its extreme technical demands (particularly the piccolo trumpet part), leaves some doubt in my mind as to the role of the 'cello part on Bb trumpet.

Trumpet students will appreciate this album for the quality playing of two internationally acclaimed artists, ably supported by Colm Carey.

Brass Review
01 September 2004