Music composed for trumpet and voice was an unlikely duo that not only had powerful connotations, but seemed to fulfill a role that was intended to express a distinct sentiment. When Alessandro Scarlatti composed his seven Arie con Tromba Sola, he had love and war on his mind. These arias are performed by Susan Rydén, soprano, and Niklas Eklund, baroque trumpet, with the London Baroque on the 1998 Naxos release, The Art of the Baroque Trumpet, Volume 3.
Spanish opera was another place to find the trumpet aria. Sebastián Durón’s La Guerra de los Gigantes contains at least two where both war and victory are celebrated. The ensemble Clarincanto performs them on their CD Spanish Songs of Love and War, 17th and 18th Centuries.
The opera stage wasn’t the only place where the trumpet aria played a unique role. The instrument has, of course, Biblical connotations and was therefore a more than useful tool in church music. The cantatas of Johann Sebastian Bach are a virtual font of arias that employ the trumpet in its different guises.
Two examples by Bach are found in the live performances recorded during the year 2000 during the Bach Cantata pilgrimage undertaken by The Monteverdi Choir and The English Baroque Soloists, directed by John Eliot Gardiner.
Henry Purcell was also someone who employed the trumpet aria to great effect. As a composer for the church and stage, he seemed to have been quite adept at inserting it at just the right moment. Three prime examples are song Sound Fame, the aria O be joyful in the Lord from Jubilate Deo in D, and Thus the gloomy world, from The Fairy Queen. These three selections are from (in order) the 1988 recording Dioclesian, by the Monteverdi Choir and The English Baroque Soloists, featuring tenor Paul Elliot; the 1992 recording Complete Anthems and Services, 2, by the Choir of New College, Oxford, and The King’s Consort, directed by Robert King; and the 1989 release of The Fairy Queen by Les Arts Florissants, directed by William Christie and featuring Thomas Randle, tenor.
The new release this week features the works of Vincent Lübeck, organist and organ consultant who worked in north Germany during the second half of the Baroque Era. His complete organ works are recorded by Friedhelm Flamme, who performs on the historic Christoph Treumann organ.
Here’s a video of the aria “Großer Herr, o starker Koenig” from J.S. Bach’s Christmas Oratorio, BWV 248: