FRENCH TRUMPET CONCERTOS - Paul Merkelo (Trumpet) - Montreal Symphony Orchestra - Kent Nagano (Conductor) - 774204984724 - Released: February 2015 - Analekta AN-2-9847

1} Henri Tomasi (1901-1971) - Concerto for Trumpet and Orchestra
2} Alfred Desenclos (1912-1971) - Incantation, thrčne et danse pour trompette et orchestre
3} André Jolivet (1905-1974) - Trumpet Concerto No. 2

I don't know about you but, whenever I think about the trumpet's role within the orchestra, or its character as a solo instrument, the adjectives that immediately spring to mind are bright, loud and proud, agile, virtuosic, etc ... but never warm and expressive. After all, because it's loud and bright, it has always been the instrument of choice for fanfares, parades, big bands, regal occasions, bringing down the walls of Jericho, and so on. And when integrated within the Baroque and/or Classical concerto form, it was first and foremost to display the trumpet player's virtuosity.

Well along come Henri Tomasi, Alfred Desenclos, André Jolivet and more specifically Paul Merkelo to completely throw my misinformed assumptions out the proverbial window. Iconic musicians like Miles Davis, Freddie Hubbard and Chet Baker for example have of course already proven how expressive and versatile an instrument the trumpet can be, but within the jazz idiom where freedom of expression, style and improvisation rule. Classical, and even 20th century orchestral music are a different matter altogether.

Paul Merkelo, principal trumpet with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra since 1995, can without a doubt manipulate the trumpet's voice and bypass any obstacles to its flexibility and expressive power. In particular, in all three slow movements of these works, the instrument practically takes on a persona all its own with characteristics comparable to the human voice. Mind you, all three composers incorporated the influence of jazz into their music, which also injects a "soulful" aspect to the music and easily lends itself to deep expression. But all in all, in this new recording for Analekta, it's quite clear that Paul Merkelo steals the show. His playing is quite simply superb. Highly recommended for trumpet fans and everyone else alike!!

Jean-Yves Duperron - February 2015