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Trumpet Masque - Jonathan Freeman-Attwood - International Record Review

04 September 2008
International Record Review
Julian Haylock

On paper the expressive limitations of the trumpet compared to, say, the violin, might at first appear to preclude much chance of the non-specialist getting much out of 73 minutes of assorted Baroquerie straight through. In practice, however, so bracingly inventive is Jonathan Freeman-Attwood's programming and Daniel-Ben Pienaar's arrangements, so compelling and beguiling their combined artistry, enhanced by exemplary sound from Philip Hobbs (St George's, Brandon Hill, Bristol), that the ear is drawn effortlessly on.

Among the most striking pieces here is Louis Marchand's Grand Dialogue de cinquième ton, an imposing six-minute work in three sections that acts as the perfect curtain-raiser to the recital as a whole. Other pieces that play directly to the trumpet's clarion strengths include Giovanni Gabrieli's celebratory Canzon seconda, Buxtehude's Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott, Holborne's Galliard and Sweelinck's Variations on ‘Onder een linde groen'. This is music that can easily descend into ear-splitting intensity and breathy brilliance, yet such is Freeman-Attwood's supreme control in the higher register that he somehow manages to combine ringing clarity with creamy smoothness, pin-point intonation and effortless agility.

Arguably, however, it is a trumpeter's ability to sustain long, flowing lines and shape introspective music with acute sensitivity that is the mark of an exceptional player, and here Freeman-Attwood really comes into his own. Whether in Böhm's Vater unser in Himmelreich, François Couperin's Chromhorne sur la Taille or Lully's Scocca pur, he plays with a haunting reflectiveness and blemishless purity that strikes right to the heart of the music. Muffat's five-movement Fifth Sonata rounds out this exceptional recital in dashing style, with both Freeman-Attwood and Pienaar relishing the music's stylistic variety with alacrity. Highly recommended.

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