on 8 August 2012
The sadly late Maurice André was probably the greatest trumpeter ever to put lips to mouthpiece. The clarity and purity of tone, the dazzling virtuosity, were his special hallmarks. So, why this volume of his edition? It contains something very special, not available elsewhere. In the 1960s, André got together with an organ/bass/drums combo to produce a record called "Trompettissimo". Side 1 (this was the day of LPs) contained adaptions of works by Bach and Vivaldi, including a simply staggering rendition of the Badinerie from Orchestral Suite No.2. However, the real joy was on the other side, a medley of folk and children's tunes, dazzlingly played. "J'ai du bon tabac" receives a stunning performance, as does "L'amour de moi", where André cuts loose at the end with an amazing run that ends up somewhere in the stratosphere. For me, the reappearance of these numbers, for the first time since the LP (to the best of my knowledge, they never appeared on CD) is worth the price alone.
The other CDs on this collection are also enjoyable. They include André's outing with the Orchestre d'Harmonie des Gardiens de la Paix de Paris (Paris Police Band) (released originally as the LP "Kiosque [French for bandstand] 1900", and celebrating the band concerts in the park at the turn of the last century), including a mind-blowing "Carnival of Venice". There are other arrangements of pieces for opera, trumpet and harp, etc., all featuring the same sumptuous tone.
In my opinion, there are several slight negatives about the collection. One is that it has its share of schmaltzy pieces (cute kiddie choirs, that sort of thing). The other is that, in the case of the baroque pieces, period performance has moved on. Erato was a leader in the field at the time, recording and releasing music that was simply unavailable anywhere else, but now some of the the readings sound somewhat stiff and square, and even somewhat too slow. However, André's playing remains as gorgeous as ever.
Too much at once is a bit like a meal consisting entirely of your favourite ice cream, but taken in suitable doses as dessert, it all makes for wonderful listening.