English Chamber Orchestra / Wynton Marsalis

Wynton Marsalis: The London Concert

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This should not be thought of as a crossover disc by a jazz artist trying his hand at classical music. It is a classical disc by a well-educated and highly talented musician. Although Marsalis is known as a jazz musician and educator, the original release of the first four concertos here was recorded when he was just 20 and relatively new to the jazz world as well. This "expanded edition" of the original CBS release of the Haydn, Mozart, Fasch, and Hummel works adds concertos from two other releases. Throughout these works, he, Leppard, and the English Chamber Orchestra are consistently clean and precise. They also are careful not to add overly affected expression to the music, although these are not period instruments nor are they using period performance practice, as Marsalis points out in the accompanying notes. Marsalis has a beautiful, smooth tone that is clear, but not sharply brilliant, so it blends wonderfully with the strings. The Hummel is especially attractive, where Marsalis plays as if he were singing an aria in the Andante, and the Rondo at times takes on the humor of a Gilbert and Sullivan patter song. The first of the additional concertos, a brief one by Michael Haydn, really tests Marsalis' abilities. He maintains his tone and phrasing even as he tackles the virtuoso ornamentation and accurately reaches the extreme high notes. Marsalis recorded both solo parts of the Vivaldi concerto, so again, there is consistency in its execution. The sound quality is excellent, becoming brighter as it moves into the bonus tracks. It's a good way to get the greatest hits of the trumpet concerto repertoire, performed with great skill by Marsalis.

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