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Simon Höfele (trumpet); BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra & BBC National Orchestra of Wales/Duncan Ward (Berlin Classics)

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

Hummel: Trumpet Concerto in E major; Haydn: Trumpet Concerto in E flat major; Copland: Quiet City; Arutiunian: Trumpet Concerto
Simon Höfele (trumpet); BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra & BBC National Orchestra of Wales/Duncan Ward
Berlin Classics 0301314BC   58.17 mins


Forget the dictionary definition of ‘standard’ on the cover: these are ‘standards’ in the jazz sense, pieces that form the central core of a repertoire. With the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, there are the Concertos of Haydn and Hummel, both written for the newly invented keyed trumpet, which filled in the gaps in the harmonic series to which the old ‘natural’ instrument was restricted. And with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, and slightly more off the beaten track for the general listener, there is the colourful single-movement Concerto of the Armenian composer Alexander Arutiunian and Aaron Copland’s atmospheric little tone-poem Quiet City, for trumpet and cor anglais with strings. The cover and booklet fail to name the excellent cor anglais soloist, but I’m grateful to BBC NOW for identifying her as Sarah-Jayne Porsmoguer.

In the Hummel and Haydn, Simon Höfele, a recent BBC Radio 3 New Generation Artist, deploys a nimble technique and an even tone with a brassy forte and an expressive if sometimes exaggerated piano; the orchestral accompaniment is fresh and spirited and the sound clearly balanced. In the Copland, Höfele shares sensitive dialogue with the cor anglais, but occasionally shows a tendency to hurry; and although he captures the shifting moods of the Arutiunian it’s without the last ounce of characterisation, while the orchestra as recorded is a little overbearing. Overall, this disc is an impressive calling-card for a player still only in his mid-20s, even if it doesn’t quite set, in the usual sense, standards. Anthony Burton