The Austrian composer/conductor HK Gruber and the Swedish trumpeter Håkan Hardenberger are collaborators of long standing, whose previous projects in common include the highly successful trumpet concerto Aerial. Like that piece, Busking (from 2007) was also composed at the instigation of Hardenberger. In his own liner notes, Gruber relates how the piece, which is here released on disc for the first time, came into being. The original commission was for a piece for string orchestra and solo trumpet in C, without the use of mutes, slides or unorthodox playing techniques, but this soon developed into something rather more complicated, partly through Hardenberger’s own suggestions. The solo trumpet part of the finished work involves both E flat and C trumpets, as well as the flugelhorn, and the soloist is also required to play on the mouthpiece alone; it furthermore employs various mutes and techniques such as multiphonics. The final score also includes solo parts for banjo and accordion, as well as some highly involved writing for strings, making Busking, in Gruber’s own words, ‘one of my most difficult pieces, a tour de force for the soloists and orchestral musicians alike.’ Gruber has enjoyed a close relationship with the Swedish Chamber Orchestra for several years, a collaboration which has already been documented on disc with Manhattan Broadcasts – ‘a disc to convert anyone who thinks contemporary music is unapproachable’ according to the reviewer in The Daily Telegraph. On the present disc, it is the orchestra’s leader Katarina Andreasson who takes on the solo parts of the remaining two works, the by turns lyrical and jazzy Nebelsteinmusik, and Violin Concerto No.1, which sprang from a love song composed by Gruber in 1973. The theme of the song underlies the entire one-movement work, but is only presented by the violin in its entirety at the very end.
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