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Thierry Gervais Plays Wassilenko, Tomasi, Vizzutti, Charles, Zwilich & Stil

Gervais / Vizzutti / Polish Rso / Stil
Release Date: 09/11/2012 
Label:  Indesens   Catalog #: 47   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Sergei WassilenkoHenri TomasiJean Jacques CharlesEllen Taaffe Zwilich,   ... 
Performer:  Thierry Gervais
Conductor:  Bastien Stil
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Grand Ensemble de Cuivres et PercussionParis Tuba QuartetQuintette Utopia
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 0 Hours 58 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

THIERRY GERVAIS Thierry Gervais (tpt); Allen Vizzutti (tpt); various artists INDESENS INDE047 (55:15)

WASSILENKO Concert-Poem in e. TOMASI Semaine sainte à Cuzco . VIZZUTTI Andante et capriccio. CHARLES _Mon papa, ne veut pas.... ZWILICH Read more class="ARIAL12b"> Concerto for Trumpet and Five Players. STIL Suite Retro

This disc is rather unusual, in that the six works featured on it were all recorded by solo trumpeter Thierry Gervais with six different ensembles over a two-year period. The supporting forces for the respective works are as follows, with the first and last items conducted by Bastien Stil and the others by David Riva:

Wassilenko: Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra

Tomasi: Ensemble of Brass and Percussionists of the Soloists of Paris

Vizzutti: The Strings of Paris

Charles: Paris Tuba Quartet

Zwilich: Utopia Quintet

Stil: Spirit of Chicago Orchestra.

The Russian composer Sergei Vasilenko (1872–1956)—or Wassilenko, as it is spelled here—was born in Moscow and studied at the Conservatory there under Sergei Taneyev and Mikhail Ippolitov-Ivanov from 1896 to 1901. After spending some years conducting various ensembles, he joined the Conservatory faculty in 1906 and remained there until his death, becoming head of the orchestration department in 1932. His pupils included Aram Khachaturian. Concert-Poem , written in 1945, is cast in three movements marked Allegro dramatico, Molto sostenuto quasi Adagio , and Allegro Vivace . Written in a conservative tonal vein with some influence of Russian folk-music idioms, it is a well-crafted and enjoyable piece that should be a standard part of the trumpet literature.

In 36:1 I reviewed a recording of the Semaine sainte à Cüzco (Holy Week at Cüzco) of the Corsican-French composer Henri Tomasi (1901–71) in a version for trumpet and organ. A pupil of Philippe Gaubert, Tomasi was a member of the “Triton” group in the 1930s that included Honegger, Milhaud, Poulenc, and Prokofiev. Heard here in its original orchestral garb, it makes a more powerful impression due to the composer’s expert utilization of exotic sound elements, drawn from his knowledge of music from Southeast Asia, Africa, and Tahiti.

Allen Vizzutti (b. 1952) is an American classical and jazz trumpeter who was born in Missoula, Montana, earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the Eastman School of Music, and now resides in Seattle. His Andante et capriccio was originally composed for trumpet and organ in 1984 and then recast for string orchestra in 1996. Like the Vasilenko, this is a conservatively tonal work, in this case one whose idiom reflects the composer’s longtime experience as an instrumentalist in Hollywood film orchestras. If you are comfortable with the music of Barber and Piston, this will appeal to you.

I could find little information about Jean-Jacques Charles, other than that he is a French classical and jazz trombonist and teacher who entered the Paris Conservatoire in 1984. His brief Mon papa, ne veut pas... (My Papa, I don’t want to...) is a brief, witty tongue-in-cheek romp. By contrast, American composer Ellen Taaffe Zwilich (b. 1939) should need no introduction whatsoever. A pupil of Roger Sessions and Elliott Carter, she was the first woman to earn a Doctorate in Musical Arts in composition (at Juilliard in 1975) and the first to win the Pulitzer Prize in music (in 1983 for her Symphony No. 1). After the death of her husband, violinist Joseph Zwilich, in 1979, her compositional style shifted away from an atonal to a tonal vocabulary; while some have described her music as neoromantic, I personally find it closer to neoclassicism instead. She has long been one of my favorite contemporary composers, particularly for her many concerti created for various orchestral instruments. Her Concerto for Trumpet and Five Players, dating from 1985, is laid out in three movements marked Marzial, Lento con moto, and Allegro energico . It has a construction typical of many of her works, in which entire movements are germinated from a very few brief motivic seeds. The five players are a flutist (doubling on piccolo), a clarinetist (doubling on bass clarinet), a double bassist, a pianist, and a percussionist (who plays an assortment of instruments, of which marimba is particularly prominent). It is a work that is at once both colorful and substantial, and likewise should hold a secure place in the standard trumpet repertoire.

I cannot locate any information about conductor and composer Bastien Stil. His Suite Retro from 2008, composed for an ad hoc “Spirit of Chicago” orchestra, is a nine-minute work in three movements, titled “Novelty Rag,” “Song,” and “Revue.” As one can infer from the titles, these pieces are written entirely in faux 1920s popular music idioms, and their quality is equally ephemeral. Allen Vizzutti joins Thierry Gervais here as a second trumpeter.

All of the performances are completely stylish, and Gervais continues the long and proud tradition of great French trumpet players. The recorded sound is up front and bright; the brief booklet notes are, as usual with Indesens, in French only. So far as I can tell, these are premiere recordings of the pieces by Charles and Stil. The Zwilich Concerto has long enjoyed a previous prestigious recording on the New World label, with instrumentalists conducted by Zubin Mehta; the Vizzutti has also enjoyed one previous recording, in a version for trumpet and organ on the ELF label that appears to be out of print. While there are several recordings on the Tomasi, only one other one is with string orchestra rather than organ, played by French trumpeter Eric Aubier and also on the Indesens label. An old Melodiya LP recording of the Wassilenko is long out of print. Consequently, this release neatly fills in some gaps in the recorded trumpet repertoire, and is heartily recommended to all fanciers of the instrument.

FANFARE: James A. Altena
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Works on This Recording

Concert-Poem, for trumpet & orchestra in C minor, Op. 113 by Sergei Wassilenko
Performer:  Thierry Gervais (Trumpet)
Conductor:  Bastien Stil
Length: 16 Minutes 35 Secs. 
Semaine sainte à Cuzco by Henri Tomasi
Performer:  Thierry Gervais (Trumpet)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Grand Ensemble de Cuivres et Percussion
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1962; France 
Length: 6 Minutes 30 Secs. 
Mon papa, ne veut pas by Jean Jacques Charles
Performer:  Thierry Gervais (Trumpet)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Paris Tuba Quartet
Length: 3 Minutes 2 Secs. 
Concerto for Trumpet and 5 Players by Ellen Taaffe Zwilich
Performer:  Thierry Gervais (Trumpet)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Quintette Utopia
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1984; USA 
Length: 14 Minutes 2 Secs. 
Suite retro, for trumpet & orchestra by Bastien Stil
Performer:  Thierry Gervais (Trumpet)
Conductor:  Bastien Stil
Length: 9 Minutes 29 Secs. 
Andante and Capriccio by Allen Vizzutti
Performer:  Thierry Gervais (Trumpet)
Period: Modern 
Length: 8 Minutes 27 Secs. 

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