David Montgomery, Reporter
Entering the beautiful new Hamilton Recital Hall inspired a mood of awe and majesty. Gazing at the magnificent organ, the audience was filled with anticipation as we awaited the start of David Kuehns recital. Kuehn has an extensive career performing with major orchestras and chamber ensembles for many years. Among these include the Michigan Opera Theatre, Detroit Chamber Winds and Strings, Buffalo Philharmonic, and Phoenix Symphony. What we were treated to was a recital that was played with extreme sensitivity, lyricism, control, technical facility, and beauty that was well worth the wait of the delayed start.
Kuehn began the recital with Concertino for Trumpet and Organ, Op. 41 by Joseph Jongen. The piece opened with a beautiful introduction that was played with rich sonorities from both trumpet and organ, and soaring melodic lines from Kuehn all done with a pure sound and excellent sense of expression. Throughout, Kuehn played with great intonation, superb phrasing, and evenness of sound in all registers. The second half of the piece was, by contrast, more playful and lighthearted. Kuehn played with ease and great control, especially in the rapid double-tonguing section. The closing section combined the soaring melodies, playful qualities, and fanfare motives serving to unify the piece as it came to a close.
Next was Elegy for Trumpet and Organ, Op. 27 (to Harry Kvebaek) by Øistein Sommerfeldt. As the title implies, the piece contains many religious qualities and relies on hymn tune usage. A relatively short work, Elegy began with a simple held note that invoked the solemn and contemplative quality of the work. Again, Kuehn performed with an excellent sense of phrasing, musicianship, and resonance. The climax near the end of the piece was performed with the power and intensity demanded while then returning to the solemn mood of the beginning. Both Kuehn and organist Ken Mervine played with remarkable sensitivity.
One of the highlights of the recital occurred when Kuehn and his brother, Dan Kuehn, also an accomplished trumpet player, performed From the Mountain-Top by Persis Parshall Vehar written for two trumpets and organ. Structured in an ABA form, the piece began antiphonally with David Kuehn, stage left in the balcony, performing melodic fragments which were echoed back by Dan, who was off stage, creating a distinct echo effect as if playing into the valley. The overall effect was tremendous as both players performed flawlessly and the organ sustained soft chords underneath. The second section brought the brothers together in the balcony for a duet that was more dance-like. This section was interrupted with fragments of the call and response motives. Both David and Dan performed the quick arpeggiated figures without any sense of the technical demand necessary. The final section returned to the off stage echo effect and was again played with ease and precision. The work ended on a beautiful major chord in the organ bringing a heightened sense of peace and repose to this inspired piece.
The recital ended with Concerto in Re by Giuseppe Tartini. The first movement was done with the brilliance and purity of sound demanded of this literature, while the second movement provided the appropriate contrast in sensitivity. Kuehn made the upper range sound effortless and played with great intonation. The third movement was very light and playful with the passages of multiple tonguing executed with exact precision and character. The brilliantly played cadenza brought a magnificent close to this great recital and left the audience refreshed and wanting more.