The Philip Smith Collection ★★★★★
Philip Smith was chair of the trumpet section for the NY Philharmonic Orchestra for many years, starting in 1978, and only retiring recently. He also taught at the Julliard School (which suggests that he had a huge, possibly direct influence, on Wynton Marsalis), where he also studied music. Much of his early trumpet education was from his father, playing in Salvation Army bands. Smith’s style of performance is distinctive and being quite melodious, and singsongy. His technical capabilities are at the top of the realm of virtuosity. What was most notable to me was his ability to blend in with an orchestra without standing out: it was more like an orchestra with a trumpet, rather than a trumpet with an orchestra. The resulting sound was most outstanding. In this collection of three CDs (two of which needed to be downloaded from iTunes), Smith performs both baroque/classical as well as modern pieces, some of which were written specifically for Smith. It is a most worthy collection to have of an outstanding trumpeter.
The Art of the Trumpet, Håkan Hardenberger ★★★★★
Håkan Hardenberger, a Swedish trumpet player, makes distinction for having a very fluid, crisp style. He performs a combination of the traditional baroque/classical pieces as well as contemporary. His technical expertise, especially with tonguing, produces a very crisp sound that few trumpeters possess. He never sounds brassy, but keeps a pleasant tone to his playing. Certainly he stands as one of the contemporary trumpet greats.
Sergei Nakariakov: Trumpet & Piano, Trumpet & Orchestra ★★★★★
This set (of actually two separate albums) are a collection of single CD’s which have been previously published. Nakariakov made his first CD (in the Trumpet & Piano album) when he was only 15 years old, and even then he has a wonderful virtuosic sound. His performances are a mix of the standard baroque/classical trumpet repertoire as well as modern stuff. He plays a combination of instruments, including a flugelhorn. His technical brilliance is unprecedented, save for a few giants like Maurice Andre. Oddly, he doesn’t do Bach’s 2nd Brandenburg Concerto, which is probably one of the most demanding pieces in the whole trumpet repertoire to perform well. Owing to his young age, we can expect many more years of the most superb trumpet music from Sergei, and perhaps even hear more from Bach.