The Baroque Trumpet  

As if to counter the normal accusation that trumpeters sidle on stage towards the end of the evening to take the bulk of the applause for their brief, but usually spectacular, contribution (to the chagrin of the violinists and continuo players who have laboured away all evening for a great deal less recognition), the Academy of Ancient Music devoted a whole evening to music for trumpets (Milton Court, 18 Feb).   It turned out to be a curious affair, starting with the (unusually) far from note perfect little opening fanfare from the evening’s director, David Blackadder.  A suite of three Bach Cantata Sinfonia’s followed (from cantatas 29, 150 & 249), my principal gripe being that Alistair Ross, the organ soloist in the opening Sinfonia, was not acknowledged as such in the programme.  A related gripe was that the weedy little box organ was more-or-less inaudible above the over-strong string playing, a question of balance that should have been sorted out in rehearsal or at the previous day’s concert in Cambridge.  It is a major failing of most Bach performances (not just in the UK) that the sound of the organ is not heard as it would have been in Bach’s day, when the organ accompaniment would usually have been a full-scale church, rather than tiny continuo, organ.  The evening continued with a range of music for up to three trumpets (played by David Blackadder, Phillip Bainbridge and Robert Vanryne) by the likes of Biber, Corelli, Vivaldi, and Telemann, with the Bach Concerto for two violins thrown in for balance, the latter played by Bojan Čičić and Rebecca Livermore.  The trumpet focus seemed to be on the spectacular, rather than the melodic, which was a shame as one of Blackadder’s greatest achievements is often in the gently melodic moments that the baroque trumpet can excel in.  Overall, the programme didn’t really hang together as a musical unity.  Perhaps trumpeters are better off wandering in towards the end?

[https://andrewbensonwilson.org/2015/03/30/the-baroque-trumpet/]

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