Marsalis: Classy Classics

At age 22, Wynton Marsalis is already a trumpet virtuoso nonpareil: a prince of jazz and — as a recent CBS release of 18th- century concertos makes abundantly clear — a king of the classics.

Backed by conductor Raymond Leppard and the National Philharmonic Orchestra, Marsalis tosses off Haydn’s E-flat Major, Leopold Mozart’s D Major (not to be confused with anything by Amadeus, who for some reason allegedly hated the trumpet) and, on the flip side, Hummel’s E-flat Major.

The Haydn highlights subtly shaped phrasing, flowing legatos (perhaps, on occasion, a tad slickly produced), and lightning- lipped staccato attacks. Marsalis isn’t as elegant a cadenza-writer as he is a performer, but the one he’s supplied here — recorded with a hint of echo — is anatomically correct.

He brings a baroque, almost martial, clarity to the ornamented Mozart, and reveals his trumpet’s lyrical side in the Hummel, which begins darkly in the lower register and ends, brightly, in a blaze of glory.

Throughout, Marsalis shows frightening control over tremendous range, with as much authority blowing at pianissimo as he has at forte — which is to say, absolute. Though at times the performance sounds perfect to the point of bloodlessness, the album overall makes for great, dazzling fun.

WYNTON MARSALIS— “Haydn/Hummel/L. Mozart Trumpet Concertos” (CBS Masterworks IM 37846).
Playing jazz this Saturday at 8:30 in the Kennedy Center Concert Hall.

by Lloyd Grove
Source: The Washington Post

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