Unorthodox organist Christopher Hainsworth with brilliant late trumpeter Nicolas Planchon

Chris Hainsworth, organ, Julien Hainsworth, cello (1) Nicolas Planchon, trumpet (2)
Two recitals, the first supported by the Maxwell Fernie Trust

Charpentier: Te Deum (1&2);
Torelli: Concerto in D (2);
Handel: Uncelebrated Largo (1);
Albinoni: Other Adagio (1);
Purcell: Not Famous Trumpet Voluntary (1);
Fauré: Pavane (1);
Anderson, George: The Battle of Waterloo, 1815 (1);
Verdi/Arban: Fantasy on La Traviata (2);
Takle, Mons: Power of Life (1)
Cool Selection: ‘In umbral colours’ (including theme from Lord of the Rings, Monti’s Czardas; 1); Tribute to Wellington Weather (‘Summer Time’ from Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess; 2)
Other items introduced to the programme are mentioned in the text below.

Sacred Heart Cathedral

Sunday, 8 February 2015 (1), 3pm, Monday 9 February, 1pm (2)

A concert of two halves, the result of trumpeter Nicolas Planchon being held up, courtesy of airlines, in Dubai.  The outcome for the sizeable audience on Sunday afternoon was a recital that included the organist’s cellist son playing a borrowed cello and downloaded music.  A free concert was announced for the following lunchtime, by which hour the absent trumpeter would have arrived.  Inevitably, not so many people could avail themselves of this opportunity, which was a pity.

The Sunday recital supported the  Maxwell Fernie Trust, which assists young organists.

It began with Charpentier’s Te Deum, the only piece to be played on both days.  If we couldn’t have a real trumpet on Sunday, we nevertheless could have the trumpet stop on the organ, which sounded very fine, and the playing produced lovely contrasts.  Some of the tuning of the reed pipes was a little bit out; perhaps due to the humid afternoon.

Jean-Baptiste Barrière (1707 – 1747) was a French cellist and composer.  In place of the prescribed trumpet concerto, on Sunday we had a Larghetto for organ and cello by the French composer.  A solemn piece, it was beautifully executed.  The gallery was surprisingly resonant for the stringed instrument; Julien Hainsworth made a delightful sound.  The accompaniment was a very simple affair.

After a spoken introduction, Chris Hainsworth played a Handel Largo from one of the organ concertos; he labeled it the “Uncelebrated Largo”, with his usual ironic sense of humour.  The Fagotto pipes seemed to have some extraneous vibrations going on, alongside the low notes.  Though uncelebrated, the piece eminently justified its place in the programme.

The “Other Adagio” followed, this time in fact by Albinoni, and not a doctored later construction as was the famous one.  It proved to be a charming and appealing piece of baroque music.   Purcell’s “Not famous Trumpet Voluntary” was a lively addition to the programme, that gave the trumpet stop a good roll.

Staying with the baroque, Julien Hainsworth played the well-known Prelude to J.S. Bach’s first cello suite, demonstrating lovely tone.

For something completely different, we had, for the bicentenary of the Battle of Waterloo, the piece of that name.  Despite neither Wikipedia nor Grove listing any compositions by this nineteenth-century Master of the Queen’s Music, Chris Hainsworth described and produced for us one of the most bombastic, patriotic, rumpty-tum pieces of music I’ve ever heard, complete with aural descriptions of battle between the British and Prussians against Napoleon’s French’ rejoicing, lamentation for the slain (this section very ‘churchy’), complete with cannonade and appropriate vocal interjections.

Another import to the programme necessitated by circumstance was a Vivaldi cello sonata.  Despite the exigencies of their situation, the performers played the gentle, slow opening with great delicacy and accuracy.  The fast second movement featured the same characteristics, despite the tempo, and the final movement, again slow, had quite a wistful or even lamenting air to it.   The cellist gave very clean execution of the ornaments.

The fast finale demonstrated very fine, accomplished and musical playing from both performers, especially noteworthy considering the almost impossibly short notice; Chris Hainsworth told the audience that they had last played the Vivaldi 10 years ago!

“Mons Leidvin Takle. born: 1942. country: Norway … ‘He brings enthusiasm and boundless energy to whatever repertoire he tackles.”  I couldn’t resist copying this Internet entry.  I had never heard of the
composer before.  This piece was written for the fortieth wedding anniversary of his sister, we were told.  It was a rumbustious organ piece, a forte both in dynamics and performance.  There was plenty of vigour, and dynamic variation.

I’m giving way to temptation to say “full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.’  It reminded me of the
hurdy-gurdy my friends and I had heard played the previous day, at Pataka in Porirua, as part of the Festival of the Elements.

For the ‘Cool Selection’ Chris mentioned ‘umbral colours’.  Some of the themes he played were familiar to me, others not.  Vittorio Monti’s Czardas was an appropriately jubilant way to end the recital.

Next day, the diminished audience heard in a little over half-an-hour those works from the original programme that had to be postponed on Sunday.  The Charpentier now featured live trumpet, and what a player! Not only could the organ open up more with the trumpet as soloist, but what a great sound Nicolas Planchon produced!

The Torelli concert (allegro-largo-allegro) was a jubilant piece, with much brilliant work for the trumpet.  The slow movement opened with what initially sounded like that used by Barber in his famous Adagio for Strings.  The lively, even bouncy, finale complete a most satisfying work.

Cécile Chaminade (1857 – 1944) is one of the few women composers to be heard reasonably often.   Her Pastorale for organ employs rather conventional nineteenth-century harmonies, but is attractive nonetheless.

Fauré’s well-known Pavane received a most beautiful rendition on trumpet and organ.  The arrangement (by one of the performers?) began with the muted trumpet, with which Planchon made a most beautiful sound.  The middle section was sans mute; the last part again with mute.
The result was magical.

The major work was Fantasy on Verdi’s La Traviata by Joseph Jean-Baptiste Laurent Arban (1825 –1889).  To say that this was très difficile for the trumpeter, is an understatement.  He revealed wonderful control of his instrument.  I’ve never thought of the trumpet as subtle, but here is was. After the statement of several themes from the opera, the virtuoso stuff started – variations putting great demands on the player, all of which he fully met.

Chris Hainsworth announced the last item as a tribute to Wellington’s weather.  What was our surprise on hearing Gershwin’s Summertime, elegantly and artistically played, again with the initial announcement of the theme by the muted trumpet.

Despite the extraordinary circumstances, those of us lucky enough to attend on both days heard a great variety of music superbly performed.


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