By general consensus, Håkan Hardenberger is regarded as
the greatest Classical trumpet soloist today. Recently, I watched
a DVD from the Masterclass Media Foundation, in which he
was the featured pedagogue. The class highlights three
students performing three different works. This 2008 release
had a running time of two hours and 13 minutes, and was
videotaped at the Royal Northern College of Music.
Elizabeth Fitzpatrick performed the first piece, a “Sonatina for
Trumpet and Piano” by Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959).
The second piece was the relatively brief “Sonatina for Solo
Trumpet” by Hans Werner Henze (1926 – ), performed by
Matthew Palmer. The final piece was “Légende for Trumpet
and Piano” by Georges Enescu (1881-1955) and was
performed by Nicholas Wright. Jonathan Scott was the
accompanist for the Martinů and the Enescu pieces.
This lesson was valuable to me, because it’s the first one
that I’ve seen featuring a brass instrument. Fortunately,
Hardenberger (1961 – ) had his trumpet with him and
frequently played it, to demonstrate the points he made
with these pupils. I learned a lot about the challenges of
being a professional trumpet player. One of the main areas
discussed was the technique of “nailing” the pitch. For much
of the time while evaluating her, Hardenberger commented
to Fitzpatrick that she was “off” by a quarter tone. He stressed
the importance of hearing the music in your head, as well
as being able to “sing” it in tune. He stated that the trumpet
is basically a “piece of plumbing,” and said that you can’t
depend upon it to ensure that the music stays in tune!
Many technical issues of embouchure were also discussed,
as well as Wright’s dubious choice of using a B-Flat trumpet,
instead of a C trumpet for the Enescu piece.
Since I haven’t heard many Hardenberger recordings, it
was nice to watch him play, and hear him demonstrate
musical points. What a beautiful tone! I felt this was one
of the better installments of the Masterclass Media
Foundation series. The running time of the DVD was generous,
and it provided me with an opportunity to watch and hear
three stylistically different 20th Century trumpet pieces,
which are departures from the standard repertoire.
The combination of these factors with a chance to watch
the “world’s greatest Classical trumpet player” in action,
made this DVD a real winner.