Live From Severance Hall CD


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“Trumpet and organ is a popular genre, but it does not fare well on recordings. Satisfactory recorded sound-balance, distance from the listener, ambience- is an elusive goal. And trumpeters seem to change when they play with organ. Maybe it’s the hugeness of the sound that causes some of the best players to struggle with pitch and turn out shapeless phrases.

This is an outstanding trumpet-organ album. The selections are excellent, the playing powerful yet tasteful, the recorded sound superb. The recording is of an April 2005 concert at Cleveland’s lovely Severance Hall by Michael Sachs (principal trumpet of the Cleveland Orchestra) and Todd Wilson (Sachs’ colleague on the faculty of the Cleveland Institute of Music).

Marc-Antoine Charpentier’s well-known “Te Deum Prelude” is given an inclusive reading with deft ornaments at the end. Sachs’ sweet yet potent trumpet tone, along with a sense of indomitable strength, is a winning formula for the familiar Torelli concerto, while his readings of the Neruda trumpet concerto and movements from a Viviani sonata (1678) are restrained and elegant.

The big piece is Petr Eben’s intense, multihued¬†Windows¬†(1976). I’ve commented on several other accounts of this fascinating piece; ones by Harry Kvebaek, Guy Touvron, and Anthony Plog rank as my favorites. They have now been surpassed. This reading is marked by power, superb tone, interpretational insight (by both Sachs and Wilson), and sonic clarity.

Organist Wilson fives an excellent account of a string concerto by Vivaldi that Bach turned into his own Organ Concerto 5. It is an all-time favorite of mine in both guises. I appreciate Wilson’s technical skill and the way his registrations achieve both contrapuntal clarity and fullness of sound. He also offers Leo Sowerby’s alternately celebratory and contemplative “Comes Autumn Time” (1916).”

American Record Guide
May/June 2006