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Brahms Trio in E flat major Op. 40

Jon Kimura Parker-piano
James Ehnes-violin
Jens Lindemann-flugelhorn

Bach Brandenburg Concerto No. 2

Jens Lindemann-trumpet
James Ehnes-violin
Joanna G'froerer-flute
Charles Hamann-oboe
Brian Manker-cello
Joel Quarrington-bass
Jon Kimura Parker-harpsichord

Bach Brandenburg Concerto No. 5

James Ehnes-violin
Jens Lindemann-trumpet
Jon Kimura Parker-harpsichord
Andrew Wan-violin
Neal Gripp-viola
Brian Manker-cello
Joel Quarrington-bass

credits

released November 19, 2020

Bach & Brahms Reimagined

James Ehnes-Violin
Jon Kimura Parker-Piano/Harpsichord
Jens Lindemann-Flugelhorn/Piccolo Trumpet

Soloists of L’Orchestre Symphonique de Montreal and The National Arts Centre Orchestra

Whenever music is made by great performer friends for the love and joy of it, something very special happens. I’m thinking for example of the Mendelssohn Piano Trios recorded by Itzhak Perlman, Yo Yo Ma and Emanuel Ax a decade ago as a perfect example. And the same spirit is evident here in this recording I’ve been listening to with such pleasure, featuring three Canadian virtuosi: trumpeter Jens Lindemann, violinist James Ehnes and pianist Jon Kimura (Jackie) Parker. The three works on it are the Brahms Horn Trio Op 40, and the 2nd and 5th Brandenburg Concertos by Bach.

Brahms wrote his Op 40 trio for natural horn, violin and piano. No, Jens Lindemann has not taken up the French Horn, valve or natural, as a way to absorb some more of his restless energy. But he has commissioned a Dutch firm to hand-make him a special 24K gold trumpet, which can sound for all the world like a natural horn, but even warmer and certainly more secure. Jens has dubbed it the “Brahms” flugelhorn, and there is not another like it in the world!

This may drive purists nuts, but if any of them have real ears and hearts to listen to this trio, there can be no other conclusion than that this is the perfect instrument for this music. Why shouldn’t a trumpet player want this music for himself to play? After all, Brahms also made transcriptions of Op. 40 for viola and cello, so that should be permission enough for anybody. And the proof is in the performance. The sound is perfectly Brahmsian, bringing out that signature sepia-toned quality in his music, that burnished gold sound filled with a longing for the past. I can see the old composer, sitting in some celestial Viennese style coffeehouse finishing his cigar, weeping for pleasure at the sound of this performance. And for the perfect balance between three strong players, and so stunningly recorded by producer Steve Epstein and engineer Richard King.

And again something new for the Bach Brandenburgs. For #2, Jens and company have taken on the recently unearthed chamber version for quintet, BWV 1047R, and nothing seems missing.
For the first time in my memory, Jackie Parker is playing the harpsichord, and playing it as if it was his first instrument. His real test comes in the extended harpsichord cadenza in the first movement of #5, and he dashes it all off with the dexterity and authority of a lifelong period instrument player. All the while Jens is playing the flute part on a piccolo trumpet, turning a softer, more intimate sound into a dazzling, pulsing Bachanalle, as if the Angel Gabriel himself had authorized it. And in the interplay between violin and trumpet here, the virtuosity of James Ehnes matches the dazzle of Lindemann toward such a glorious end that it may actually make you forget your favourite flute version. Not exactly as written, but in the spirit of the music? Worth buying? Hell yes!
- Eric Friesen, Oct 28, 2020


Brahms Trio in E flat major Op. 40

Jon Kimura Parker-Piano
James Ehnes-Violin
Jens Lindemann-Flugelhorn

Bach Brandenburg Concerto No. 2

James Ehnes-Violin
Jens Lindemann-Trumpet
Joanna G’froerer-Flute
Charles Hamann-Oboe
Brian Manker-Cello
Joel Quarrington-Bass
Jon Kimura Parker-Harpsichord

Bach Brandenburg Concerto No. 5 BWV 1050

James Ehnes- Violin
Jens Lindemann-Trumpet
Jon Kimura Parker-Harpsichord
Andrew Wan-Violin
Neil Gripp-Viola
Brian Manker-Cello
Joel Quarrington-Bass

Producer: Steve Epstein
Engineer: Richard King
Assistants: Jack Kelly and Alex Dobson
Album Cover: Sharie Hunter
Recorded at the Schulich School of Music at McGill University June 3-4, 2019 Montreal

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