Review by: Jens F. Laurson
Artistic Quality: 7
Sound Quality: 8
Every couple of decades the classical music scene seems to discover a fabulous trumpeter who reminds us that trumpet concertos are a thing and actually quite beautiful. Maurice André shaped one generation; Sergei Nakariakov another and Alison Balsom has carved out a nice niche, too. Maybe the next trumpeter to receive such attention (although not actually any younger than ex-Wunderkind Nakariakov) will be Canadian Paul Merkelo. In any case, he managed to have an album released on Sony Classical, titled “The Enlightened Trumpet”.
The title puts a nice historico-cultural spin on what is a collection of precisely the four trumpet concertos you’d expect on any given trumpet concerto CD: the four pieces we know, love, and periodically rediscover for ourselves, preferably around Christmas-time, because they—Hummel, Haydn, Telemann, and Leopold Mozart—all sound so wonderfully festive.
Paul Merkelo plays them very well, faultless but for a blip in the D major Telemann Adagio—indeed, as well as you’d expect from a world-class trumpeter. Granted, the jaw-dropping element that Nakariakov brought to the table is not quite there, nor is the honeyed tone of Balsom. But that would be asking for a lot. The 20-year-old residency orchestra of the University of Oxford under Marios Papadopoulos (whose booklet-bio lets us know that his Beethoven sonatas are on one level with those of Schnabel, Kempff, Brendel, and Barenboim, wouldn’t you know!) lightly and capably provides the competent backup at the genial, leisurely pace that Merkelo sets.
There’s much right and really nothing wrong with this disc. On the other hand, it’s also not particularly special and the interpretations have an interchangeable quality that places them on this side of something truly distinguished or extraordinary. Still, if you have misplaced your Maurice André trumpet concerto disc in your last move and want to pull a few trumpet concertos out for the season, this release—mainly available to stream—will absolutely do as a substitute!
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Recording Details:Album Title: The Enlightened Trumpet
JOSEPH HAYDN: Trumpet Concerto in E-flat major Hob.VIIe/1
G.P.TELEMANN: Trumpet Concerto in D major TWV 51:D7
LEOPOLD MOZART: Trumpet Concerto in D major
J.N. HUMMEL: Trumpet Concerto in E major S.49
- Paul Merkelo (trumpet)
Oxford Philharmonic Orchestra, Mario Papadopoulos
- Sony Classical - 80463