Magazine article Gramophone

Arban

Magazine article Gramophone

Arban

Article excerpt

Arban 'Fantasies on Verdi Operas' Fantasies on Attila, Un bailo in maschera, Don Carlos, Ernani, La forza del destino, I Lombardi, Luisa Miller, Oberto, Rigoletto, Simon Boccanegra, La travlata, II trovatore and I vespri siciliani, plus the Miserere from II trovatore Angelo Cavallo cornet Michele Fontana pf Dynamic (F) (2) CDS7784 (120' * DDD)

Wagner relates how, during his youthful stay in Paris, he kept body and soul together by arranging operatic melodies for the cornet a piston. When the results proved unplayable, he blew half his fee on having them rewritten by a pro. Jean-Baptiste Arban (1825-89) would have made no such mistake. This Paganini of the cornet was a hugely influential figure in French brass-playing during the Second Empire and his compositions served as showcases for his own brilliant technique as well as being aimed at the sizeable amateur market.

That these 14 Fantasias are formulaic goes without saying; they're vehicles for melody, garnished with just enough virtuosity to impress a salon audience. Thirteen Verdi operas from Oberto to the then up-to-the-minute La forza del destino provide the melodies: Arban alternates fast and slow, with at least one variation in triplets or semiquavers in each case. Nothing here quite develops the whirligig brilliance of Arban's famous variations on Carnival of Venice but there's a reasonable amount of dialogue between instruments and in some of the later pieces--such as the fantasy on the Miserere from II trovatore--Arban attempts something a bit more formally ambitious. …

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