Tom Arthurs/Richard Fairhurst - Postcards from Pushkin
(Babel BDV 1194. CD Review by Chris Parker)
The result of a commission from the City of London Festival, Royal Philharmonic Society and the BBC, this duo album takes the work of Aleksandr Pushkin as the inspiration for its seven pieces, all composed by flügelhorn player Tom Arthurs and performed by him with pianist Richard Fairhurst.
The pair have already released a duo album, Mesmer, on the same label in 2007, and their musical rapport is based on their shared interest in the production of pure-toned, luminous and lyrical sounds from their respective instruments. Arthurs's is a simply ravishing tone, perfectly suited to the evocation of romance ('The Flirt') or the song of the nightingale ('Silence'), but he is versatile enough, both as a composer and soloist, to convey the extraordinary range of emotions and moods (Arthurs describes Pushkin's writing as filled with 'pathos, intimacy and gentle humour') of his subject's texts, and in Fairhurst, he has found the ideal foil.
Whether he's subtly showcasing Arthurs's alternately spearing and lush sounds, or spinning elegant improvisations of his own from his partner's themes, Fairhurst, as Arthurs states in his liner notes, demonstrates 'complete dedication, positivity and belief' throughout a set that consistently succeeds in capturing what the trumpeter calls 'the directness, honesty and clarity of Pushkin's work'.