Storgards: Hakan Hardenberger plays Dean and Francesconi (24/96 FLAC)
Storgards: Hakan Hardenberger plays Dean and Francesconi (24/96 FLAC)

Composer: Brett Dean, Luca Francesconi
Performer: Hakan Hardenberger
Orchestra: Gothenburg Symphony
Conductor: John Storgards
Audio CD
Number of Discs: 1
Format: FLAC (tracks)
Label: Bis
Size: 997 MB
Recovery: +3%
Scan: yes

Dean, B: Dramatis personæ
01. I. Fall of a Superhero
02. II. Soliloquy
03. III. The Accidental Revolutionary

Francesconi: Hard Pace
04. I. Quarter Note = 60
05. II. Adagio
06. III. Miles
07. IV. Finale

Ever since his very first disc, released by BIS some thirty years ago, Hakan Hardenberger has earned recognition for his performances of the classical repertory, but also as a pioneer of significant and vituosic new music for the trumpet. Collaborations with composers such as Takemitsu, Part, Henze, and H.K. Gruber have resulted in numerous works, of which the two recorded here are among the more recent. Brett Dean’s concerto Dramatis personae is named after the term used for the list of characters in a stage work, and casts the soloist in the role of the ”Hero”. Dean’s protagonist is a complex one, however, with traits inspired by comic book super heros as well as the classical flawed heros of literature and legend: ”Soliloquy”, the second movement, is a reference to Hamlet, while Charlie Chaplin’s character in ‘Modern Times’ has inspired the work’s finale, ”The Accidental Revolutionary”. If there is a hero in the concerto by Luca Francesconi, it is Miles Davis. In his comment sto the work, Francesconi talks of Davis as ”a musician who transcends all labels” with ”a delicate, cracked sound” and a voice which speaks directly to the listener. Hard Pace, the title of Francesconi’s work, is an allusion to a difficult journey, but it is also a conflation of the names of the performers for whom it was written: Hardenberger, Antonio Pappano and the Santa Cecilia Orchestra. On the present recording it is the Gothenburg Symphony and conductor John Storgards who provide Hakan Hardenberger with expert support in these demanding and rewarding scores.

Plenty of Trumpet

This CD has 2 substantial concerti for trumpet. The Dean piece displays formidable orchestration chops, but after several listenings I’m still not able to find a core to it. It’s dense, to be sure, but I’m always relieved when it rounds into the homestretch and finishes up. The last movement (two bits of music going at once) has inevitable Ivesian moments, but does not appear to have the sense of memory or irony you find in the best of Ives. In the end, it’s a pretty forgettable piece.

The Francesconi is quite another thing altogether. The first movement often focuses on a single pitch and its infinitely variable articulations. But it also spins into something swirling and dramatic. It’s followed by a passionate Adagio, then by a pointillistic paen to Miles Davis. The concerto wraps up with a big, complex, dramatic and satisfying movement. Overall I hear much the same sort of emotional depth as some of the best music from Eastern Europe. But the palette is a little broader. Francesconi has never been afraid to add instruments to his orchestra, and in this case an electric guitar plays an important role. It doesn’t feel pieced-in, but instead adds integral colors.

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