Eotvos, Gruber, Turnage

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5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Eotvos,Gruber,Turnage
LABELS: DG
ALBUM TITLE: Eotvos, Gruber, Turnage
WORKS: Various
PERFORMER: Håkan Hardenberger (trumpet); Gothenburg SO/Peter Eötvös
CATALOGUE NO: 477 6150
For the Baroque the trumpet could be relied on to add a dash of jubilant optimism. By the 20th century, whether in the timeless ritual of Ives’s Unanswered Question or the cityscape of Copland’s Quiet City, the confidence is gone. And jazz has lent a new persona and vocabulary.

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That said there’s a deal of optimism to balance the angst in Eötvös’s Jet Stream, a piece premiered only three years ago yet already receiving its second commercial recording. It’s easy to hear why. The music is dense but intelligible, sonorous yet glitteringly incandescent, and although Eötvös might baulk at the title ‘concerto’, Hardenberger, ‘in the eye of the storm’ (as Eötvös prefers to put it), is a breathtaking concerto soloist after the fact. He makes everything sound almost obscenely easy, and plays with a glint in his eye to match the one in his laser-sharp projection. Eötvös conducts with proprietorial insight – and is just as attentive to the ‘happy-to-be-called-concertos’ which provide a frame. HK Gruber’s Aerial comes complete with cow horn in C and offers evocative (sometimes louche) aerial views of an imagined Nordic landscape, and an earth – wryly observed from space – ‘gone dancing’. Turnage’s more compact snapshot is a quasi autobiographical study in rehabilitation: an ascent from flugelhorn to piccolo trumpet underpinned by a heady quickening of pulse. Both are premiere recordings and the Gothenburgers rise to every challenge. Paul Riley