Mendelssohn’s Cello Sonata No. 2 in D major, Op 58, is a long work by trumpet-playing standards and yet problems of stamina are reduced considerably by the generous, open-plan dialogue of the first movement, extending into a radiant and idiomatic four-movement concert sonata for trumpet and piano. The demanding piano part decorates the solo line with such dazzling ease that the trumpet – unused to such heady accompaniment – is, inevitably, caught up in its ‘schwung’. The bold D major opening melody (imbued with what could easily pass for emblematic trumpet arpeggios) with its incandescent lyricism soon combines with incisive passage-work which a tonguing instrument can execute with rapier thrill. It can be argued that the contrast of these various elements is enhanced in the upper register of a trumpet, thereby clarifying the textural relationship between soloist and piano. Even cellists balk occasionally at the ungrateful scrubbing in the lower register!
All of the movements contain resonances from previous Mendelssohn works: the swathes of Mediterranean heat of the ‘Italian’ Symphony in the first, Puck-like figuration in the most obvious homage to ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ in the second, a Lutheran organ chorale and passion-like recitative dominating the rhetorical world of the third movement recitativo/arioso, and the blisteringly athletic combat of the last – recalling Schumann as its energetic themes are rolled out for increasingly congenial discussion. All these myriad aspects arguably deflect attention away from issues of instrumental idiom and provide ‘elbow room’ for the revisionist to adopt the abstract melodic fluency and figurative decoration of a splendid new solo sonata for trumpet and piano.
- Trumpet in C
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