Night at the Opera, A [1935]

On the back of this package, HÃ¥kan Hardenberger is described as "the world's greatest trumpeter," a claim that his performance does a lot to justify. Christian Lindberg gets a slightly more modest description as a "sensational virtuoso trombonist," and has no trouble living up to it. The "Night at the Opera" in the title turns out to be a concert at the Royal Academy of Arts in London devoted to transcriptions for trumpet, trombone, and piano, mostly from opera but also including a bit of ballet (a suite from Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet), a transcription from Orlando di Lasso, who lived before opera was invented, Rossini's hilarious "Duet for Two Cats," and (on piano) Liszt's tribute to a sonnet of Petrarch. Operatic material includes the overtures to Verdi's La Forza del Destino and Rossini's The Barber of Seville, a suite from Carmen, a brilliant transcription of the "Papageno... Papagena" duet from The Magic Flute, and a set of variations on a theme from Bellini's Norma. The performances are phenomenal, the musical material instantly and deeply appealing. The music would be enjoyable (and cheaper) in a CD without the video element, but the visuals add significantly to the value of this production. Brass players will be interested in seeing how these experts handle their instruments; others will pick up a sense of atmosphere from the striking surroundings, with paintings in the background and a highly reactive audience. --Joe McLellan

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