Recording Reviews

  • Concerto Palatino, dir. Bruce Dickey. Nature’s Secret Whispering: Music in the Cosmolo­gy of Johannes Kepler (1571–1630). Passacaille PAS 1073, recorded November 2019. passacaille.be

    In the more than thirty years since it was founded by Bruce Dickey and Charles Toet, Concerto Palatino has become, I think it’s fair to say, the gold standard of early-mod­ern brass ensembles—both for the uniformly superb level of their playing and for the interest­ing projects they have taken on. Here is perhaps their most interesting pro­ject yet: a pro­gram of music revolving (no pun intended, sort of) around the thought of the great astro­no­mer Johannes Kepler.

  • University of Kentucky Baroque Trumpet Ensemble. A New and Compleat Preceptor for the Trumpet and Bugle Horn by J. Hyde (1799). dir. Jason Dovel. Sontius Records SR 004, recorded Summer 2020. Available on iTunes

    Friedrich Anzenberger (HBSJ 1993) noted in the first of his series of articles on trumpet methods that this is the first English method book for trumpet and bugle to be published. Jason Dovel and the fine trumpeters of the University of Kentucky Baroque Trum­pet Ensemble have done the brass community a great service by recording all the music from this important fifty-page method. There is some question as to whether Hyde’s first name was John or James. The title page of the method says the music was composed and compiled by J. Hyde and lists his affiliation as “of the Opera House and Trumpet Major to the Gentlemen of the London & Westminster Light Horse Volunteers. Of course, today Hyde is most remembered for the invention of the English slide trumpet. The title page also  indicates that the Cavalry Duty and Signals are “approved of and ordered by his Royal Highness the Duke of York, Com­mander in Chief.”

  • High Bridge Brass Album

    High Bridge Brass, High Bridge Brass (Summit Records, 2019). For further information, click here.

    This new recording of two brass quintets (Op. 5 and Op. 11) by Russian composer Victor Ewald and a brass sextet (Op. 30) by German composer Oskar Böhme shows off the advantages of playing these early works on their intended instruments.

  • bachweinachtMusica Fiorita, Weihnachtsoratorium [Bach], Pan Classics (PC 10393), 2017. https://www.musicafiorita.ch/

    Under the direction of Daniela Dolci, Musica Fiorita promotes historically informed performance practices for repertoire from the late Renaissance and Baroque eras. Performing on period instruments, the ensemble’s members seek to recreate the sounds and emotions of Johann Sebastian Bach’s Weihnachtsoratorium (Christmas Oratorio) on a brilliant new two-disc recording.

  • outheretelemannEnsemble Eolus, Georg Philipp Telemann per Tromba & Corno da Caccia (Outhere Music RIC 397), 2018. www.outhere-music.com

    In its first recording, Ensemble Eolus has released a disc celebrating repertoire by Georg Philipp Telemann and his contemporaries, and specifically music that features trumpet and horn. Eolus was the god of the winds, and this ensemble features specialists on historical wind instruments. In the liner notes, the group emphasizes its desire to accurately recreate the sound of Baroque music on historical instruments, which this ensemble specifically seeks to do by not using vent holes or hand stopping. The ensemble explains that they also wish to recreate “all of the original flavour of the music’s regimental and military origins.”

  • ecse windyThe English Cornett & Sackbut Ensemble, Music for Windy Instruments: Sound From the Court of James I, Resonus Classics (RES10225), 2018.  Ensemble website, cick herePurchasing/download information, click here.

    Gawain Glenton; soprano & mute cornets, Conor Hastings; soprano, alto, tenor & mute cornets, Andrea Inghisiano; soprano & mute cornets, Nicholas Perry; tenor cornett, Emily White; tenor sackbut, Tom Lees; tenor sackbut, Catherine Motuz; tenor sackbut, Adrian France; tenor & bass sackbut, Silas Wollston; harpsichord & organ. Recorded at A= 465hz.

    This recording marks the 25th anniversary of this fine ensemble and is a wonderful marriage of performance and scholarship. All the repertoire on this CD comes from the so-called “Fitzwilliam Wind Manuscript” an important source housed in the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge (Mu. MS 734).

  • SONITUSCLARISSIMACDSonitus Clarissima, Music for Court and Cavalry (SR 1001). Recorded October 27-28, 2018. Ensemble website link, click here.

    Sonitus Clarissima: Baroque trumpets: Jason Dovel, John foster, Chase Hawkins, Don Johnson, Jenna Veverka, Jared Wallis. Timpani: Josh Smith.

    Sonitus Clarissima (Latin for “Brilliant Sounds”) is aptly named. This new ensemble is comprised of a group of wonderful virtuosos. Their inaugural CD has a program of a nice mix of some little-known repertoire with that of a few of the natural trumpet “standards”.

  • Ganassi dongoisWilliam Dongois and Le Concert Brisé, Silvestro Ganassi and La Fontegara (Ricercare 395), 2017. https://outhere-music.com/en/albums/la-fontagera-ric-395 ; www.concert-brise.eu

    William Dongois; cornet, mute cornet, recorder, Timea Nagy; recorder, Tiago Simas Freire; recorder, cornet, mute cornet, François Lazarevitch; recorder, flute, Sarah Walder; viola da gamba, Isabelle Brouzes; viola da gamba, Bor Zuljan;lute, percussion, Hadrien Jourdan; harpsichord, Stefan Legee; trombone, Romain Bockler; baritone.

    Silvestro Ganassi (1492–1565) holds a special place in music history as having written the first in a long line of treatises on diminution in his La Fontegara. It was published in Venice in 1535. This wonderful recording is an outgrowth of a scholarly research project, lead by William Dongois, for the Haute Ecole de Musique of Geneva. In Ganassi’s own words, “Diminution is nothing except an ornament for the counterpoint.” The principal aim of the treatise was to facilitate the imitation of the human voice on instruments. Ganassi was among a number of renowned piffari in Venice for the Dodge and a member of Scuola Grande of San Rocco.  His years of service for the Doge coincided with the period that Adrian Willaert was maestro di cappella of the Basilica of St. Mark.

  • September 29, 2018

     

    Kathryn James Adduci, trumpet, and the Baroque Chamber Orchestra of Colorado, Forte e Dolce (BCOC002) 2013.

     

    Forte e Dolce is the second recording issued by the Baroque Chamber Orchestra of Colorado on their own self-published label and is available digitally for download on Amazon, iTunes, and elsewhere. Given that more than half of the CD’s tracks highlight the trumpet, it might be better thought of as a solo album featuring Baroque trumpeter Kathryn James Adduci (playing a 2006 Egger instrument modeled after a 1748 Ehe III instrument).

     

     

    The trumpet works included here will be well known to all: Franceshini’s Sonata for Two Trumpets, Torelli’s “Etienne Roger” Concerto and Sonata G. 7, Stradella’s Sinfonia Avanti Il Barcheggio. Adduci’s playing and interpretations have a great deal of merit from both the technical and artistic perspectives, and although recordings of these works are frequently seen her interpretations stray just far enough from “standard” to warrant hearing. In the opening moments of “Etienne Roger,” for example, she presents the famous leaping subject in far more a legato style than others, an artistic decision requiring more than the usual amount of technical prowess. The remainder of the movement follows suit. One might presume that her chosen repertoire would offer Adduci limited opportunities for virtuosic displays, and while this is true for the most part, there are noteworthy flashes. The most impressive is the extended chain of trills concluding the third movement (“Canzone”) of Stradella’s Sinfonia, which insofar as my ear is concerned is flawlessly executed.

     

     

    I found myself to be particularly impressed with Adduci’s ability to manipulate the tone of the instrument via articulation. Of course she captures the spirit of the natural trumpet in tone and timbre—apparently on a vented trumpet for those who feel strongly about such things, though the CD gives no indication either way—but on occasion (and especially in the more fanfare-like passages) she finds a way to coax a brilliant and biting, almost modern (but in a good way), sound from the instrument. I am not sure I was aware that the Baroque trumpet had such a wide variety of possible sounds given what I have heard on the recordings of others. Clearly Adduci excels in the areas of articulation and tone even as her interpretations offer differing perspectives on familiar works.

     

     

    The only artistic decision I would question is the replacement of the second trumpet soloist with a violinist for the Franceschini Sonata. The liner notes indicate that this decision was made to “highlight the dialogue inherent in the piece with contrasting timbres.” To me there is a fundamental contradiction in a "historically informed" ensemble taking such liberties without some apparent historical justification (none is provided). By the same token I did not really think that the rewards justified the risk. The violin proved unequal to the task of competing with the noticeably louder trumpet and the end result, for my ear at least, was a solo trumpet work with some kind of halfway accompanimental quasi-obbligato violin part.

     

    The non-trumpet half of the album has its own outstanding features. Generally the orchestra performs admirably both as an accompanimental ensemble and in the non-solo pieces. The recording includes chamber works as well. Violinist Cynthia Miller Freivogel and theorbo/guitarist Daniel Zuluaga collaborate on the CD’s wonderful closing track, Antonio Bertali’s Chiacona. Both performers demonstrate their skill in transforming an apparently unassuming movement into a virtuosic showcase over the course of some eight minutes.

     

    Bryan Proksch, Lamar University

  • Giovanni Battista Fontana and Giovanni Gabrieli, Sonate et Canzone, Le Concert Brise, Accent Recordings (ACC 24250), 2013.

    William Dongois, cornett and direction; Christine Moran, Alice Julien-Laferriere, violin; Stefan Legee, Franck Poitrineau, sackbut; Hadrien Jourdan, harpsichord and organ; Judith Pacquier, cornett; Matthias Spaeter, archlute; Carsten Lohff, harpsichord

    Recorded June, 2013 at Notre-Dame-de-l’Assomption, Treffort, France; A=466

    The offering of Le Concert Brise on this recording is elegant, stunning, and exciting. There are no “grand” works as such, yet there is grandeur in each selection. I recommend that one first read the liner notes by William Dongois which give the listener a wonderful historical/musicological entry into the recording. For example, when describing the Fontana sonatas, he mentions that they “are made up of numerous individual sections, each of which appears to tell a story.” Indeed, and our performers do well in their “story-telling” as they perform these sonatas. Dongois notes that while Fontana was a violinist and had that interest in mind for his sonatas, he also names the cornetto as the principal instrument for many of them. The listener will concur that Dongois’s playing fulfills Fontana’s compositional demands and desires with mastery, charm, purity of sound, and flare. Surely a highlight of this recording is Dongois’s performance of Fonatna’s Sonata VI. He tosses off the numerous technical passages found in it with ease. He always shapes his phrases with grace. Even those which are full of dazzling technical jumps and runs are polished and smooth. There is yet another quality of Dongois’s playing which deserves attention: his warm pure sound, especially in the upper register.

    The cornetto playing of Judith Pacquier is deserving of high praise as well. She blends perfectly with Dongois in every way including in some very dazzling technical passages which she handles with ease and grace. The listener will want to note how well they are matched in Fontana’s Sonata XI: note the phrasing, articulation, execution of florid passages which are always performed with warmth and ease. Stefan Legee’ssacbut playing is excellent throughout. One has the opportunity to appreciate it best in Fontana’s Sonata XIII in which he has an extended solo section. He plays with excellent refined sound, intonation, and is always refined in his phrasing.

    The disc closes with Le Concert Brise’s arrangement (for their specific instrumentation) of the well-known Canzon Duodecimitoni. It offers the listener, perhaps, a better window into this composition: one hears the individual lines with great clarity, and the entire ensemble performs it splendidly.

    This recording by Le Concert Brise is a delight in so many ways. It is an intriguing program and the liner notes are informative and interesting. The performance of Le Concert Brise is both inspired and inspiring. The listener will appreciate both the highest level of virtuosity of its players, as well as an obvious commitment to playing as a unified ensemble. I highly recommend it.

    -- Jim Miller

  • gonzaga venice 1629The Gonzaga Band, Venice 1629, Resonus Classics (LC28421), 2018.

    Jamie Savan, director, and cornett (treble cornett by John McCann, mute cornett by Serge Delmas, and tenor cornett by Christopher Monk); Helen Roberts, cornett by Paolo Faniciulacci; Faye Newton, soprano, Oliver Webber, violi; Theresa Caudle, violin, and cornett (by Roland Wilson); Steven Devine, organ and harpsichord

    Recorded in St. Mary’s College Chapel, New Oscott, Sutton Coldfield, England at A=466 Hz, ¼ comma mean tone temperament

    It is well-documented that Venice was a fertile place to be for musicians in the early 17th century. This recording focusses on a single year, 1629, which could arguably be thought of as a time of particularly high activity. It is of note that the plague reached Venice the following year. The highly detailed and very interesting program notes by Jamie Savan state that perhaps one-third of the population of Venice died from the plague in 1630-1631. He notes that there are 50 extant publications from Venice in 1629, 30 from 1630, and none from 1631. For that reason alone, a study and recording of music from 1629 is valuable.

  • prb russian revThe Prince Regent’s Band, Russian Revolutionaries Vol.1: Victor Ewald & Oskar Böhme. Resonus Classics (RES10201), 2016.

  • distin prince regentThe Prince Regent’s Band, The Celebrated Distin FamilyResonus Records, 2016.

    Richard Fomison; soprano cornet in Eb, cornet in Bb, contralto saxhorn in Bb, Richard Thomas; soprano cornet in Eb cornet in Bb, contralto saxhorn in Bb, tenor saxhorn in Eb, Anneke Scott: tenor saxhorn in Eb, ventil horn in Eb, Phil Dale; baritone saxhorn in Bb, Jeff Miller; contrabass saxhorn in Eb.www.princeregentsband.com

  • dovel uky trumpetsUniversity of Kentucky Baroque Trumpet Ensemble, Jason Dovel, director, with John Foster, guest soloist. Music for Natural Trumpets. New Branch Records (NBR 018), Recorded July 11, 2017. www.jasondovel.com

    Baroque trumpets: Drew Burke, Jason Dovel, John Foster, Bailey Goff, Phillip Chase, Cadem Holmes, Jessica Lambert, Kyle Mitchell, Rhiannon Montgomery, Coleman Scott, Abby Temple, Jared Wallis. Sackbut: Denver Pascua, Timpani/Tabor: David Davenport.

    Those who attended the 2017 HBS Symposium will remember a stunning performance at the Metropolitan Museum of Art by the University of Kentucky Baroque Trumpet Ensemble, directed by Jason Dovel. The present CD is the ensemble’s first recording and may be the first professional recording by a college baroque trumpet ensemble.

  • snedeker gallayJeffrey Snedeker, Twelve Etudes for Second Horn, op. 57 (1847) by Jacques Francois Gallay (1795-1864) (self-published, 2017).

    Recorded: May 2017, Central Washington University by Allen Larsen. Natural Horn: Seraphinoff Classical Horn, 1989 after Raoux (Paris, ca. 1820). Valved Horn: Patterson Custom Double 2003

    The name Jeffrey Snedeker will be a familiar one to any who pay attention to historical horn performance and pedagogy. Snedeker is a horn player (both natural horn and modern valved horn) and pedagogue of the highest order, and we have been recently blessed with another fine recording from him.

  • dovel baroque

    Jason Dovel and Schuyler Robinson, Baroque Music for Trumpet and Organ (New Branch Records 019, 2018). www.newbranchrecords.com and www.jasondovel.com.

    Jason Dovel has produced a beautiful recording with a stunning program of five well known and elegant works from the late-seventeenth and early-eighteenth century trumpet repertoire. Those who attended the HBS symposium in New York in 2017 will remember his fine playing with his Kentucky University baroque trumpet ensemble. Jason Dovel is a great promoter of historical trumpet performance and has established, perhaps the very largest university baroque trumpet program in the US at the University of Kentucky.

  • Collina Confluence 300 72Ensemble Collina, Confluence (Acis APL 01744), 2016. acisproductions.com

    Confluence is the first recording by the early music group Ensemble Collina. The quartet consists of Leah Peroutka, violin, Brent Wissick, viola da gamba, Michael Kris, trombone, and Elaine Funaro, harpsichord and organ. For their inaugural recording, they have chosen thirteen seventeenth-century works.

  • HandelMusica Fiorita, George Frideric Handel: Ode for St. Cecilia’s Day (Pan Classics, 2017).

    Recorded at Adullamkapelle, Basel, Switzerland November 17-21, 2016 in A=415 Hz. http://www.musicafiorita.ch/

    From 1683 through 1703, on November 22, St. Cecilia, the patron saint of music would be celebrated with great festivities including a religious Mass, banquets, and a gala concert. Composers whose music was performed during these years include Henry Purcell, John Blow, John Eccles, Daniel Purcell, Giovanni Battista Draghi, and Jeremiah Clarke. It is not known why the tradition ended, but in 1739, it was revived and this time featured music by Georg Frederic Handel. The program included his Alexander’s Feast, which had premiered three years earlier, and a new work with the same title as one composed for these occasions many years earlier by Henry Purcell: the Ode for St. Cecilia’s Day.

  • gemill hornAlec Frank-Gemmill and Alasdair Beatson. A Noble and Melancholy Instrument: Music for Horns and Pianos of the 19th Century. BIS, 2017 (BIS-2228, Hybrid SACD). www.bis.se. Recorded January 2016 in Cologne, Germany.            

    This recording is well worth the investment and time required for attentive listening. Overall, Alec Frank-Gemmill displays beautiful horn playing, agile technical ability, excellent tone quality

  • madeuf molterJean-François Madeuf, J. M. Molter: Concertos for Trumpets and Horns (Accent ACC 24327).

    Johann Melchior Molter (1696–1765) was a highly regarded and prolific composer, born in Tiefenort near Eisenach. He spent considerable time in Italy and was influenced there