Trumpets - Jonathan Freeman-Attwood - Gramophone

Originally conceived for brass band, Elgar's Severn Suite of 1931 already exists in at least two alternative arrangements for symphony orchestra and solo organ. Now Colm Carey's reworking for two E flat trumpets and organ presents us with a supremely effective third option of which, one suspects, the composer himself would have approved. There's firm enjoyment to be had, too, in the three movements from Strauss's Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme suite; try the noble splendour of the conclusion to the 'Entrée de Cléonte'.

However, the real find here has to be the Rheinberger Suite in C minor, a substantial, 37-minute work from 1887, originally scored for the unusual (unique?) combination of violin, cello and organ (Carey's instrumentation replaces the first two with a piccolo trumpet and B flat trumpet). The enthusiastic and detailed booklet-notes are spot-on: it's a charmer from start to finish, brimful of captivatingly tuneful, polished inspiration and solidly argued, too. Indeed, to my ears, the whole work evinces a positively symphonic scope, so it comes as no surprise to learn that Rheinberger also devised a version incorporating string orchestra.

Jonathan Freeman-Attwood and John Wallace play with mellifluous grace and unstinting accuracy, while Colm Carey draws some ripe and varied sonorities from the organ of Hereford Cathedral. Philip Hobbs's production serves up a sumptuous feast of sound, especially when reproduced in SACD format. This diverting tryptich is by no means only for brass and/or organ aficionados and merits the heartiest of welcomes.

01 October 2004