Thursday, April 26, 2012

Håkan Hardenberger

Swedish trumpet player Håkan Hardenberger.

Hardenberger is probably today’s most famous trumpet player of art music—unless one counts Wynton Marsalis, now primarily a player of jazz.

Hardenberger is a great virtuoso, but he is not an interesting musician. I have never been impressed with anything I have heard from him—and I have not been impressed with his playing in Holmboe’s Trumpet Concerto on a BIS compact disc Andrew and I have been listening to of late.

Hardenberger lacks a distinctive sound and he lacks a distinctive “voice”, both of which Maurice André possessed in abundance. A distinctive sound and a distinctive “voice” made André a worldwide star. Hardenberger does not possess André’s “star” qualities. As a result, Hardenberger has never been able to transform his solo career into anything beyond a succès d'estime.

Hardenberger is much less renowned in the United States than in Europe. He enjoys a reputation here far less exalted than in Europe, probably because top-of-the-line brass players are a dime a dozen in the U.S.—whereas, in Europe, only Germany and Austria produce exceptional brass players in significant number. Hardenberger, a markedly odd man, has never been able to gain much traction here.

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