WORKS: Let the Bright Seraphim; Su le sponde del Tebro
PERFORMER: Jeni Bern (soprano), Crispian Steele-Perkins (trumpet); Handel Players
CATALOGUE NO: 30366 01182
Baroque specialist trumpeter Crispian Steele-Perkins has amassed a considerable number of instruments of all shapes and sizes during his years as an antique trumpet collector and restorer, and one such instrument – an English slide trumpet – is proudly featured in the Purcell and Handel items on this recording. Unlike the reproduction Baroque instrument commonly used in period performances today, with its compromising modern aids, this slide trumpet is a truly natural instrument with every note using the full sonorous length of the tubing.
Although the large period mouthpiece allows some expert, agile ‘lipping’ of the out-of-tune harmonics, there still remain some uncomfortable notes, and the overall difficulty prevents an effective partnership with the voice. This is a stunning debut recording for Jeni Bern, whose mellifluous tone and subtle nuances of articulation are matched only by the performance of the presumably reproduction trumpet in the Italian works. Sound quality could not be gauged from the pre-production pressing.
The Capriccio recording, though using modern instruments, has much to recommend it. Trumpeter Reinhold Friedrich’s sensitive playing and direction, coupled with Ruth Ziesak’s bright soprano, proves that the piccolo trumpet can perform as an expressive equal to the voice. However gently and stylishly executed, though, the gleaming high notes betray the unmistakable sound of the small modern trumpet – worlds apart from the sonority of the true Baroque instrument. Deborah Calland