June 2008

Johann Christian Hertel, Johann Wilheim Hertel - Trumpet Concertos
Wolfgang Bauer, trumpet; Württembergisches Kammerorhcester Heilbronn
MDG 901 1499-6
Format: Hybrid Multichannel SACD
Released: 2008

by Rad Bennett

Musical Performance ****1/2
Recording Quality ****1/2
Overall Enjoyment ****1/2

On hearing Wolfgang Bauer’s previous recording for MDG of Haydn trumpet concertos, I was moved to recognize him as one of the very best virtuoso trumpet players today. Not only does he have technique that allows him to play absolutely anything with seeming ease, he has a golden, burnished tone that must be the envy of his peers.

Just as the previous SACD presented music by a father and son, Michael and Franz Joseph Haydn, this disc offers music by the older Johann Christian Hertel and his offspring, Johann WIlheim, both of whom lived and composed in the 18th century. Johann Christian is represented by his Sinfonia in D, an energetic work that uses three trumpets with timpani to produce a very martial sound. A similar bravura work by son Johann Wilheim ends the disc. In between are four concertos by the younger Hertel that are energetic in their extremities but have middle movements of a quieter nature. They are exquisite and eloquent, and Bauer spins them out in quite an ethereal manner.

Many of us await MDG recordings with the same breathless anticipation that we used to reserve for Mercury Living Presence or Decca FFSS releases on vinyl. There is no disappointment here. Producer Werner Dabringhuas has created another splendid-sounding recording that captures the intimacy of a live performance while discreetly using surrounds to remind us of the importance of the recording venue. Especially notable are the superb balances between soloists and orchestra and the correct balance of the harpsichord to the strings.