Notes and Editorial Reviews
ON THE HORIZON: New Music for Trumpet and Piano
Jason Bergman (tpt); William Campbell (tpt);
Ellen Elder (pn)
MSR 1482 (71:40)
Three Pieces for Trumpet and Piano.
Trumpet and Piano.
Concerto for Two Trumpets.
Les noces del Manyà
If you needed proof of the strength of orchestral musicians in the smaller cities of America, this disc will provide it. Jason Bergman is principal trumpet of the Mobile Symphony Orchestra and Mobile Opera Orchestra in Alabama, and he sounds like a world-class soloist on this recording. He plays with style and elegance, a lovely legato where the music calls for it, and at the same time a strong internal rhythmic pulse. He understands the principles of tension and release in music-making, and he gets a nice range of color out of his trumpet.
Perhaps the most important asset here is Bergman’s choice of music. This is all music that is attractive and “listener friendly” without in any way dumbing down. These composers do in fact challenge and engage the listener, but not in a way that is forbidding or unapproachable. As you might expect, all of the writing fits the sound of the trumpet naturally.
Kevin McKee is himself a trumpeter. His
is extremely lyrical, and with tunes that stay in the listener’s memory. I remember the great Chicago Symphony principal trumpet Adolph Herseth, whose legato was exceptional, telling me that his musical models were John McCormack, Jüssi Björling, and Frank Sinatra! I have no idea if Bergman would say the same thing, but his extremely vocal approach to playing his instrument reminds me of Herseth’s remark (and of Herseth’s approach), and I can pay no higher compliment to a trumpeter. At the same time, when agility and brilliance are called for, Bergman provides them too.
Brazilian Antônio Guerreiro’s three pieces are nicely varied; “Achernar Blues” is strongly jazz-influenced, and “Jongo” is an infectiously rhythmic dance-like piece. James Stephenson is also a trumpeter (he played for 17 seasons as a member of Florida’s Naples Philharmonic) and thus has a natural feel for the instrument.
was composed in 2003, and is for unaccompanied trumpet. It makes great demands on the player, not only technically, but in terms of pacing and coloristic variety, and Bergman meets them. The piece is dramatic and engaging.
The rest of the pieces are similarly engaging and brilliantly played. We hear some more jazz influence in John Stevens’s Sonata, and a lovely middle slow movement. Erik Morales is a trumpet player-composer who has written music across all genres: classical, jazz, and pop. He wrote his Double Concerto for a consortium of brass players, and it was premiered appropriately at the 2013 International Trumpet Guild Conference. It pits the two trumpets at times almost competitively against each other, although at other times they are in complete harmony. William Campbell matches Bergman’s playing in tone and approach, and the result is great fun. The second movement, marked
, is particularly attractive. José Pasqual-Vilaplana is a Spanish composer who wrote
Les noces del Manyà
(Manya’s Wedding) for the wedding of two close friends of his in 2005. It is the final piece on the program, and like the previous Concerto it is written for two trumpets and piano, and it has become a favorite whenever two trumpeters get together. It is easy to see why: It is a tender, gentle love song that must have been a highlight of that wedding.
If one thinks that a recording of trumpet music is likely to be relentlessly brilliant and perhaps a bit tiring, this disc confounds that expectation. There is as much here that is warm, intimate and lyrical as there is virtuosic and fiery. Bergman balances both aspects of his art very well, and the result should please anyone who enjoys the sound of the trumpet. The recorded sound is excellent: detailed, but not too close or aggressive. I wish the notes were lengthier and more informative than they are, given that these are composers that most listeners will not know. That, however, is the only complaint I have about a recording that was a very pleasant discovery.
FANFARE: Henry Fogel
Works on This Recording
Pieces (3), for trumpet & piano by Antonio Guerreiro
Ellen Elder (Piano),
Jason Bergman (Trumpet)
Length: 13 Minutes 32 Secs.
Call, for trumpet by James Stephenson
Jason Bergman (Trumpet)
Length: 2 Minutes 39 Secs.
Sonata for Trumpet and Piano by Halsey Stevens
Jason Bergman (Trumpet),
Ellen Elder (Piano)
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1953-1956; USA
Length: 20 Minutes 18 Secs.
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