Swedish trumpeter Niklas Eklund recorded five wonderful and varied volumes of "The Art of the Baroque Trumpet" for Naxos, and now he is moving into Classical repertoire. Eklund was born in the southern city of Göteborg in 1969. (I've lived there at different times – nice place!) Eventually, his studies took him to Basel, and he held a position with the Basel Radio Symphony until 1996, when he decided to pursue a solo career. Basel's loss was Naxos' (and our) gain. Soft or loud, his tone is attractive, and he carefully shapes his phrases as well as his individual notes, extracting all the meaning and expression that lies within them. Possessed of a strong technique, he uses it for the good of the music, not for the gratification of his ego. Every trumpeter worth his salt has played and recorded the Hummel and Haydn concertos, but Eklund is in the considerably smaller company of those who perform these works as music, not as virtuoso vehicles. He and Goodman (a veteran of many "authentic performance practice" CDs on the Hyperion and Nimbus labels) take fast movements at a sensible (i.e., "authentic") tempo. The slow movements are melting, but not exaggerated. The Swedish Chamber Orchestra provides accompaniments well suited to Eklund's scale and style.
The Hummel and Haydn works are familiar, but perhaps a word or two needs to be said about the other two. Jan Křtitel Jiři (aka "Johann Baptist Georg") Neruda was a Bohemian composer who was active first in Prague and then in Dresden. A generation older than Haydn, he sits at the border between the Baroque and Classical eras. His shapely concerto has more in common with Haydn's works than with Johann Sebastian Bach's, however. Bedřich Divi (aka "Friedrich Dionys") Weber also was Bohemian. His dates are 1766-1842, making him a near contemporary of Hummel. He remained in and around Prague most of his life, and was a noted academic. Like his teaching, his Variations are conservative. I don't know if his teaching was enjoyable, but his Variations are.
The Hummel and Haydn works are played on a keyed trumpet, which was developed around 1813. The Bohemian works were written for the keyed trumpet's predecessor, the valve trumpet. Eklund plays all four on modern keyed trumpets.
The engineering is warm and satisfying. If you're looking for a modern recording of any of these works, Eklund should satisfy you nicely.
Copyright © 2003, Raymond Tuttle