Monday, January 14, 2013

A Dream Come True

So what happens when an accordion player, a trumpeter and a banjo player walk into a bar?

That could be a pretty funny joke.

Now for one that isn't a joke:
What happens when an accordion player, a trumpeter and a banjo player walk onstage in Vienna's Musikverein?

A confused crowd and a trumpet played who had his socks quite literally blown off.

To make this even better, HÃ¥ken Hardenberger was the soloist. To me, he is to trumpet solo literature as Wynton Marsallis is to jazz trumpet. For my study of the Enesco's Legend, I primarily referred to a recording of Hardenberger's. I absolutely love his tone. It is so pure and light hen it is required, yet can absolutely drown out his accompanying orchestra at a moment's notice. I could go on and on and on...

The first piece Hardenberger played was Hayden's Trunpet Concert in Eb, originally written for Anton Weidinger in 1796. It could have easily been one of the recording of his, except the occasional sniffle reminded me that Hardenberger was right in frot of me! From the first note (a simple concert Eb), I knew I would live it. The lighter-than-air quality he gave to the sixteenth note runs made them seem less than inconsequential, little more than a afterthought or a technical flourish. The octave jumps in the third movement were one of the best renditions I have ever heard. It was live too!

After the intermission, Hardenberger played a second piece. He was joined onstage by an accordion played and a banjo player. I did not recognize it and the composer, H. K. Gruber, was there to shake his hand after he finished it. Dispute the virtuoso skill required to play the piece, it was weird.

Really weird.

I can not say I didn't enjoy it because the piece was flawlessly executed. What impressed me most was the use of Multiphonics in the second movement. A correct and musical use of multiphonics is very difficult on any instrumet, but especially the small-bore horns like trumpet and French horn. There was a very intricate passage of long tones where the trumpet held the same pitch, but Hardenberger's voice descended a whole step every bar until it was a full octave. Alone, this was absolutely amazing. But the orchestration behind it was so odd and ill-fitting to my ear that the value if the piece diminished. Unfortunately, this trend was commonplace in the piece- a technically magnificent solo line that is against a background that did not fit. It left a feeling of unease with me at times.

Most if all, after the piece ended, a man a two or three rows behind me booed. Quite loud too. While many people had similar sentiments about the composition, the performance of it was top quality.

Overall, I enjoyed Hardenberger's performance immensely. I was not let down in the least.

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