Music Web International, October 2012: "You may not realise you need this CD until you have it, but once you do it becomes instantly irreplaceable."; International Record Review, February 2013: "A thoroughly attractive and enjoyable release.”
The common denominator of the three works presented here is the soloist Håkan Hardenberger. In 1999, the celebrated trumpet player asked HK Gruber to arrange his 3 MOB Pieces for trumpet and orchestra, and eight years later Gruber wrote the concerto Busking while his long-time collaborator Kurt Schwertsik wrote Divertimento Macchiato, both on Hardenberger’s initiative. In the 1960s Schwertsik and Gruber became known as ambassadors of the ‘Third Viennese School’ – a grouping which originated as a reaction against the total serialism of Darmstadt-centred avant-garde. One of the first manifestations of this was the ‘MOB art & tone ART’ Ensemble, in which the two composers and their friends performed new music of a deliberately informal, un-solemn sort. With influences as diverse as the neo-classicism of Stravinsky, the Beatles and the cabaret music by Hanns Eisler and Kurt Weill, the MOB Pieces, composed in 1968, are a perfect illustration of this. Gruber’s work has always shown a strong connection with various kinds of popular music, and his concerto Busking is another example. In each of its three movements the soloist plays a trumpet in a different key, with the accompaniment of an accordion, a banjo and strings. Often the accordion and banjo join the trumpet as a solo group, with a resulting sound evocative of street musicians and New Orleans jazz. On the surface, Schwertsik has remained closer to home, by taking recourse to a form typical of the classicism of Vienna during Mozart's days. But the title Divertimento is deceptive – Schwertsik adds both melancholy and defiance to a work that appears, on the face of it, to offer easy-on-the-ear entertainment, and the five-movement work ends with an epilogue for the trumpet alone – a soliloquy almost Mahlerian in its sense of loneliness and desolation.