French tones by Hardenberger


Last night we were at a Norrköping Symphony Orchestra concert, “A French Tone”. Sandwiched in between Poulenc’s playful suite and Prokofiev’s darkness were two – for me unusual – trumpet concertos featuring Håkan Hardenberger. Both were mid-20th century concertos, respectively by Tomasi and Jolivet, and both pieces had a level of discord that is beyond my musical appreciation. Jolivet’s 2nd trumpet concerto with its weird arrangement seemed particularly artificial and gimmicky. But Hardenberger’s clear and precise tones still shone through both concertos. Only very occasionally did the music give him a chance to show off the singing trumpet that he is so well known for.

Well worth listening to – once.

The Symphony Orchestra Norrköping (SON) is among the better second tier ensembles and acts as a stepping stone for up-and-coming conductors (Herbert Blomstedt, Franz Welser-Möst and Esa-Pekka Salonen among many others). We will be hearing more of Michael Francis.

Norrköpings Symphony Orchestra

Conductor Michael Francis
Solist Håkan Hardenberger trumpet

Poulenc Suite
Tomasi Consert for trumpet

Jolivet Concerto No.2
Prokofiev Symphony No.3

Hardenberger has been called the greatest trumpeter of his time and even “the cleanest, subtlest trumpeter on earth” by The Times. I am not qualified to make such judgements, but I just enjoy his tone and the way he makes a trumpet sing. I particularly like this excerpt from one of his Masterclasses at the Royal Northern College of Music where he demonstrates – with Bohuslav Martinu’s sonatine – how a trumpeter must be able to sing – in his head – what he is about to play.

“Listen Before” as he puts it.

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