ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Virtuosi Ð John Wallace
WORKS: Trumpet Sonata No. 1; Trumpet Sonata No. 3; Trumpet Sonata No. 8; Concerto in D; Sonatine
PERFORMER: John Wallace (trumpet/cornet)Simon Wright (piano, organ, hpd)Meyrick Alexander (bassoon)
CATALOGUE NO: CDC 5 55086 2 DDD
The latest in EMI’s prestigious ‘Virtuosi’ series, this solo disc of trumpeter John Wallace looks an enticing package. With introductory notes by Wallace himself and accompanying historical chronology of ‘The Trumpeter and its Virtuosi’ from Tutenkhamun to Birtwistle, the disc aims to offer, following the concept of the series, a thorough introduction to the instrument. In his choice of repertoire, Wallace pursues the survey idea, presenting works from Fantini in the 17th century, through Arban and Höhne in the 19th, to contemporary Françaix and Eben. He achieves this continuity by swapping to the cornet, filling the 19th century’s gap in the trumpet’s own literature.
The contemporary works are best suited to Wallace’s personality-driven style of playing. He relishes sudden dynamic changes and unearths and highlights oddities in the music that other trumpeters smooth over. The mesmeric trumpet melismas in Eben’s ‘Golden Window’, dispatched with grace notes that can sound like splits, and an exaggerated glissando, offer him golden opportunities. Likewise, Wallace’s imagination breathes life into the otherwise pecky and introverted Françaix Sonatine.
Wallace enjoys both the heart-on-sleeve and technical elements of the cornet pieces, although some might miss a more traditional cornet sound, and he is ideally heroic in Enescu’s Legend. As for the Baroque works, though, he would do well to leave them to specialists. Deborah Calland