Trumpet recitals are among the rarest of events in the classical music realm. It's just a guess on my part, but I imagine that recitals by female trumpeters have tended to be ever so slightly rarer. Which is to say that Sunday evening's appearance by Tine Thing Helseth for the Shriver Hall Concert Series was extra cool.
The Oslo-born trumpeter, joined by an exceptional pianist, Bretton Brown, brought with her a vivid program. There aren't a ton of works originally composed for trumpet and piano. Some of the best were on the bill.
Hindemith's 1939 Sonata, disturbed by thoughts of impending war (the funereal finale is especially haunting), received a taut performance. Except for a final note that needed more control and sustaining power, Helseth's playing was technically polished, her phrasing effective. Brown provided sterling support.
The duo likewise meshed in Enescu's "Legende," an eventful, often mesmerizing tone poem. The trumpeter produced a good deal of color and expressive nuance, while Brown tapped deeply into the considerable riches of the piano part. And Helseth breezed effortlessly, vibrantly through Edvard Hagerup Bull's showpiece, "Perpetuum Mobile."
Transcriptions of vocal works filled out the program. De Falla's "Seven Popular Spanish Songs" fit the trumpet -- and this trumpter -- especially well. Helseth made the instrument sing, sigh and gleam in finely nuanced fashion, and Brown delivered the virtuosic accompaniment with aplomb. It all sounded remarkably idiomatic.
Same for "Kaddisch," from Ravel's "Deux Melodies Hebraiques," which Helseth sculpted eloquently, making the work's emotional build-up quite affecting.
A selection of vivid songs by Sibelius and Weill did not sound quite as persuasive. Helseth played them sensitively enough, but the arrangements were too literal, too straightforward. Weill's "Je ne t'aime pas," in particular, called out for more flexibility of line, something of a vocalist's expressive freedom. Brown's contributions in those songs were consistently classy.
The trumpeter unleashed delicious bravura in Piazzolla's "Libertango" as an encore, matched note for note by her intrepid accompanist.