Saturday night’s concert in the Saigon Opera House was was another in the series of the Norway – Vietnam “Transposition Series” in which Norwegian musicians join with their Vietnamese counterparts to broaden both groups’ musical experience. This time seven Norwegian instrumentalists joined the HBSO Symphony Orchestra in a program of largely Russian music. The conductor was Norway’s Terje Mikkelsen. After Borodin’s well-known Polovtsian Dances from his opera Prince Igor we launched into the 1950 Trumpet Concerto by the Armenian composer Alexander Arutunian, with Tormod Asgard as the soloist. Norwegian conductor Terje Mikkelsen – Photo: Courtesy of HBSO The sound of Asgard’s trumpet, from the moment it first issued forth, was riveting. No wonder the young Mozart fainted the first time he heard the instrument. It’s common for a trumpet’s sound to be referred to as “blazing”, and this was indeed like a fire, but a fire in the heart of the imagination itself. Trumpets have unfortunately often been used to give men resolve in going to war, but the instrument’s magnificence transcends the military context, as Saturday’s showing amply demonstrated. The experience led to the thought that all an orchestra’s instruments should ideally be as distinctive as this, albeit in…
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