Paul Merkelo is principal trumpet of the Montreal Symphony Orchestra and a player of unusual lyrical gifts. This randomly-presented programme of early 18th-century pieces demonstrates both the possibilities and pitfalls of trumpet-and-organ transcriptions. Merkelo’s imploring line in the chorale prelude Nun komm der Heiden Heiland leaves us in no doubt that this ornamented chorale benefits from the life-breath of a trumpet as, literally, a living stop on the organ. As for the chamber music interaction between players, only the Handel Sonata, Op 1 No 5 and the Bach Trio Sonata really exploit this aspect of the dialogue potential between the instruments: the fast movements, especially, are glitteringly performed and both soloist and the versatile keyboardist Luc Beauséjour (with a barely audible cello) appear enraptured by their quicksilver exchanges.
With this cocktail, soloist Paul Merkelo proves that in Canada, there are no stilistic frontiers for the orchestra. Merkelo (his favourite composer: Gustav Mahler) has been a member of the Montreal Symphony Orchestra since 1995, and is regarded as one of Canada’s and the US’s best solo trumpeters. He knows no limits between Baroque and jazz music, and has worked internationally with conductors such as Solti, Bernstein, Maazel, and Dutoit.