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Cantatas for Soprano
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Brett DEAN (b. 1961) Dramatis Personae for trumpet and orchestra (2013) [31:08] Luca FRANCESCONI (b. 1956) Hard Pace: Concerto for trumpet and orchestra (2007) [26:28]
Håkan Hardenberger (trumpet), Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra / John Storgårds
rec. Gothenburg Concert Hall, Sweden, 2014 (Dean), 2015 (Francesconi)
Reviewed in Surround 5.0 BIS BIS-2067 SACD [58:30]
Brett Dean is a well-established composer with a long list of impressive compositional achievements behind him. This concerto was written for Håkan Hardenberger. The title reflects the theatrical nature of the work. The notes explain the reasoning behind the three movement titles, “Fall of a Superhero”, “Soliloquy” and “The Accidental Revolutionary”. They do something to enlighten the listener but they are not really necessary because the piece is approachable and will not alarm anyone interested in “modern” music. It is rhythmic, complex, sometimes lyrical and very skilfully orchestrated, from the faint ticking of percussion at the start to the lively and loud final moments.
Francesconi was a pupil of, amongst others, Stockhausen, and is more old-school Avant Garde, if one can say that. He too has a long list of compositions and a lot of important successes in the opera house and the concert hall. The title of his concerto is an acrostic derived from the dedicatees: Hardenberger, Pappano and the Santa Cecilia Orchestra. This really does not matter very much, nor do his accompanying notes, which did not make much sense to me. Suffice it to say this is more challenging to the listener but still interesting to listen to, full, as it is, of interesting sounds, some of them electronic. There are four movements. The work was recorded in the presence of the composer and thus must be exactly what he wants it to sound like. He writes about the influence of Miles Davis, which goes someway to explain the occasionally jazzy flavour.
The disc is, as usual from BIS, magnificently well recorded and could indeed serve as a “demo” record, if anyone still wants such things. The notes are mostly useful though, as noted above, Francesconi wins no prizes for clarity. Håkan Hardenberg and the Gothenburg players under John Storgårds negotiate the difficulties without breaking a sweat and produce a lot of exciting sounds. If this is your sort of thing, it is enthusiastically recommended to you.
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