Tine Thing Helseth (trumpet), Kathryn Stott (piano)
Nordheim Den første sommerfugl (1982)
Martinů Sonatina for trumpet and piano (1956)
Shostakovich 4 Romances on Poems by Alexander Pushkin Op. 46 (1936-7)
Piazzolla Café 1930 from Histoire du Tango (1986)
Grieg 6 Songs Op. 48 (1884-8)
Gershwin Prelude No. 2 in C sharp minor (c1923-6); By Strauss (1936)
Weill Youkali (1934)
Kreisler Toy Soldiers March (1917)
Wigmore Hall, Monday 6 March 1pm
by Ben Hogwood
What a joy to see the partnership of trumpeter Tine Thing Helseth and pianist Kathryn Stott renewed at Wigmore Hall, united in an original program of trumpet originals and imaginative arrangements from vocal sources.
Dreamy lines from the piano introduced the concert’s first item, Arne Nordheim’s Den første sommerfugl (The First Butterfly), full of spring promise as the insect’s flight gracefully orbited the hall. Helseth’s trumpet line was a lyrical one, speaking faintly of folk song. From here the pair moved straight into the compact and winsome Sonatina for trumpet and piano, one of the Czech composer Martinů’s miniature gems. Written while experiencing homesickness in New York, the work began with a gruff introduction from the piano, its repeated note figurations taken up by the trumpet in fanfare-like salvos generating a good deal of energy. Gradually this subsided into more poignant thoughts, the composer revealing his softer centre, and by the bittersweet chorale with which the work ends the sense was that of a composer looking for his fortunes to change. Both performers caught that shift of focus.
Next up was an imaginative choice, an arrangement of Shostakovich’s Four Pushkin Songs. The vocal lines transfer to the trumpet with surprising accuracy, both artists playing in such a way that the original spirit of the songs was fully maintained. Regeneration, the first song, was thoughtfully done, held notes on the trumpet carrying above delicate figuration on the piano. Premonition was an easy amble in triple time, but the fourth song, Stanzas, held the cycle’s emotional centre. A substantial song, as long as the other three combined, it began with a stern introduction from Stott before a compelling dialogue unfolded.
Complementing this was a beautifully floated account of Piazzolla’s Café 1930, tastefully augmented by Stott’s rhythmic attention to detail. The melodies really sang from Helseth’s trumpet, any breathing challenges overcome with deceptive ease. As she said at the end, a bit of Piazzolla is never wrong!
Helseth’s announcements between the groups of pieces were nicely done, with an easy charm that also showed how much the two artists were enjoying themselves. This much was clear again in six songs by Grieg, grouped together as Op.48 but once again transcribing with relative ease for the trumpet. Gruss (Greeting) featured a lovely depiction of bells, an outdoor scene, while Lauf der Welt was a rustic march. Helseth’s characterisation of Die verschwiegene Nachtigall (The secretive nightingale) was nicely done. Zur Rosenzeit (Time of roses) presented bright colours, while the final Ein Traum (A dream) was especially full of feeling.
We moved to a stylish Gershwin duo, starting with an account of Prelude no.2 that was especially enjoyable when the main theme returned with the mute in the trumpet. By Strauss was also a highlight, enjoying the Viennese waltz send-up, while Weill’s Youkali was a soave tango. Finally Kreisler’s Toy Soldiers March was a perky account, led off by the piano with crisp fanfares. Topping a highly enjoyable concert was an encore of Piazzolla’s Libertango, led off with a swing by Stott and played with great panache by Helseth, including pitch slides to perfection.
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