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The Austrian composer/conductor HK Gruber and the Swedish trumpeter Håkan Hardenberger are collaborators of long standing, whose previous projects in common include the highly successful trumpet concerto Aerial. Like that piece, Busking was also composed at the instigation of Hardenberger. In his own liner notes, Gruber relates how the piece, which is here released on disc for the first time, came into being.
The original commission used orthodox playing techniques, but this soon developed into something rather more complicated. The solo trumpet part of the finished work involves both E flat and C trumpets, as well as the flugelhorn, and the soloist is also required to play on the mouthpiece alone; it furthermore employs various mutes and techniques such as multiphonics. The final score also includes solo parts for banjo and accordion, as well as some highly involved writing for strings, making Busking one of Gruber’s most difficult works. Gruber has enjoyed a close relationship with the Swedish Chamber Orchestra for several years recording Manhattan Broadcasts (BISCD1341) which would ‘convert anyone who thinks contemporary music is unapproachable’ according to the reviewer in The Daily Telegraph.
Heinz Karl Gruber: Busking
II. Molto largo
Heinz Karl Gruber: Violin Concerto No. 2, "Nebelsteinmusik"
I. This is my theme
II. Im Herzschlag (In time with the heartbeat)
Heinz Karl Gruber: Violin Concerto No. 1, "… aus schatten duft gewebt"
Allegro, doppio tempo (pesante) (Fig. 16)
Presto (Fig. 25)
Presto (Fig. 50)
Thema: Cantabile con calore (Fig. 79)
17th February 2011
“All of them are instantly identifiable as products of the same quizzically original mind. Each of the two violin concertos inhabits a rather Bergian world...Busking was composed for Håkan Hardenberger, and makes full use of his phenomenal virtuosity, weaving themes from Gruber's operas into a dazzling cross-cut fabric of competing rhythms, with the banjo and accordion adding a brittle, almost sardonic edge.”
20th February 2011
“Gruber invests concerto form with the imaginative density associated with the symphony. Of his two violin concertos, the second, Nebelsteinmusik, is delightful, and the first is an undoubted masterpiece, fully the equal of those by Prokofiev or Walton...Busking, for trumpet, accordion, banjo and strings, Gruber’s second concerto for Hakan Hardenberger, is a haunting study in outré sonority.”
19th February 2011
“Behind the frivolities there’s serious meat; beauty too, well brought out by Håkan Hardenberger in the drifting and smoky slow movement. Two violin concertos, nifty fusions of chromatic anguish, tonal simplicities, pop music and Alban Berg, fill out this enjoyable disc.”
“These three concertos are very different from one another in character but they share strong sense of the capricious and fantastic and an infectious yet subversive good humour and rhythmic drive. Hardenberger (ably assisted by his streetwise co-soloists, though his is obviously the star part) is a dazzling soloist in Busking, and all three performances seem to be very near perfection.”