18th century keyed trumpet premieres in Sydney: Gabriele Cassone performs with the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra


This July, Italian trumpet virtuoso Gabriele Cassone will bring to Sydney a sound it has never before heard in concert. That sound belongs to the keyed trumpet. In the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra’s Dazzling Virtuoso tour, Cassone will perform the trumpet concertos of Haydn and Hummel on this specialised period instrument; the instrument which was most prevalent at the time that the music was written. The sound will be a world away from the the way we’ve heard it on the modern trumpet.

In fact, Cassone will perform on not but on two different keyed trumpets: one with five keys in E flat for the Haydn concerto and another with 6 keys in E for the Hummel concerto.

The instrument’s European names conjure up an exotic vision: in French is it the trompette à clefs; in German Klappentrompete; and in Italian tromba a chiavi. The keyed trumpet has two double bends held horizontally. The keys are on one side of the instrument so they can be operated by just one hand, whilst the other hand holds the instrument. The keys cover soundholes, and when opened raise the pitch. Most keyed trumpets have five keys, but can have four or six keys.

When the Haydn and Hummel concertos were composed, the instrument was undergoing a series of revisions and improvements  which extended its range and ability to play more complex music. Cassone describes the instruments: ” With the keyed instruments it was possible to play a whole chromatic scale for the first time on a trumpet. The instrument is very long like a natural baroque trumpet and basically double that of a modern piston trumpet in the same pitch. For this reason it has a particularly deep and dark sound. It is also more difficult to play!”

Gabriele Cassone has a collection of 30 trumpets, of which he plays 15. He is considered a world authority on the instrument, throughout its history. Professor at the Conservatory of Novara in Italy, he is also a guest professor at the Academy of S. Cecilia in Rome, lecturing and conducting masterclasses throughout Europe and the United States, and adjudicating at international competitions.

An esteemed contemporary musician as well,  Luciano Berio selected Gabriele Cassone to premiere his works for solo trumpet: Sequenza X for solo trumpet, and Kol-Od, performed with L’Ensemble Intercontemporain under the direction of Pierre Boulez. Along with the celebrated trombonist Christian Lindberg he has performed in Berio’s opera Cronaca del Luogo, commissioned by the Salzburg Festival. Cassone was appointed principal trumpet by Sir John Eliot Gardiner for the entire cycle of J.S. Bach’s Cantatas by the English Baroque Soloists, as well as in the Second Brandenburg Concerto. Ton Koopman, director of the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra, appointed him principal trumpet for the ensemble’s recording of Cantata BWV 51 by J.S. Bach.

Gabriele Cassone co-founded the baroque music Ensemble Pian&Forte and has given solo concerts around the world including the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, Cité de la Musique in Paris, La Scala in Milano, the Mozarteum in Salzburg, New York’s Carnegie Hall, the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London and the Vienna Konzerthaus. He has over twenty acclaimed CD recordings in repertoire that ranges from the baroque through to the contemporary era.

The keyed trumpet has a long and fascinating history. It was first made in Dresden c 1770 and had its premiere performance in about 1800, in a concert which featured the Haydn concerto in E flat major. By the 1820s it was appearing in military music but by the 1840s it was being superseded by the valved instrument. Its sounds is said to be more mellow and less penetrating that its Baroque predecessor, more akin to a sonorous oboe or clarinet.

Leanne Sullivan, the Brandenburg’s Principal Trumpet player comments “The keyed trumpet is a very difficult instrument to play well, which is one of the reasons we don’t get to hear many people perform on it that often. It takes years of practice to perfect, even for the very best of players.”

The Brandenburg’s Artistic Director Paul Dyer will direct from the fortepiano.


Haydn J Symphony No. 94 in G major ‘Surprise’

Haydn J Concerto for trumpet in E flat major Hob: Vii e1

Gluck C Larghetto and Chaconne from the ballet Don Juan

Hummel J Trumpet Concerto in E major

Bookings at: City Recital Hall Angel Place (02) 8256 2222 or www.cityrecitalhall.com

or Brandenburg (02) 9328 7581 or www.brandenburg.com.au

Tickets range from $61 to $148.00. Concessions/Under 30 available.

Booking fees apply.




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