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Pakhmutova, Ewazen, Plog: Trumpet Concertos / Holt, Trevor

Release Date: 06/27/2006 
Label:  Crystal   Catalog #: 765   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Alexandra PakhmutovaEric EwazenAnthony Plog
Performer:  John HoltZdenko Bojtos
Conductor:  Kirk Trevor
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 0 Hours 59 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

The aim of this disc is to showcase the brilliant trumpet-playing of John Holt, professor of trumpet at the University of North Texas and lead trumpet with the Dallas SO. The disc achieves that aim with the same bullseye effect Holt exhibits when hitting a high note or executing a run. He is without doubt a tremendous technician. All three works could be described as “middle-of-the-road” stylistically. Musically undemanding on the listener, they are considerably demanding on the soloist. A prime example would be the passages of rapid repeated notes in the mercurial Scherzo of Plog’s concerto, but there are many such instances, ensuring that this disc should at least be of great interest to brass-players.

The earliest concerto
Read more comes from Russia, written in 1955 by Alexandra Pakhmutova. It seems to be one of the few Soviet trumpet works not composed for Timofei Dokshitzer, although the famous virtuoso eventually took it up once Pakhmutova had acquiesced to his demand for alterations. Russian folk song is a strong influence in Pakhmutova’s work; the Slavic curve to her melodies is reminiscent of Gliere. The concerto is in one continuous movement that, after a quiet introduction, falls into a straightforward fast/slow/fast structure. You may get a distinct whiff of Hollywood in the lyrical climax of the central slow section—not so rare an influence as one might suppose in the output of Soviet composers. (Listen to the plush film scores of the otherwise coolly cerebral Edison Denisov.)

Anthony Plog was himself a trumpet-player, making a number of recordings (including at least one on this label). In 2001, he retired from performance altogether to devote himself entirely to composition, although his second trumpet concerto dates from earlier (1995). It is a substantial four-movement work, with notable felicities of scoring. The Allegro movement mentioned above requires the soloist to swap mutes throughout, giving the solo part considerable timbral variety.

Coincidentally, I began this reviewing year with two CDs of Eric Ewazen’s music. He is a member of the Juilliard faculty who has written a number of concertante works with string-orchestra accompaniment. Although Ewazen’s idiom is far removed from that of the cutting-edge crowd, I find his music consistently well written for the forces involved, formally tight, and pleasant to listen to. In particular, he has a knack of tapping into a mood of gentle nostalgia without being sentimental or glaringly derivative. The elegiac third movement of this concerto is typical in that respect. The work’s opening could almost be a continuation of the preceding Russian concerto; the harmonic spice is remarkably similar. In the notes, Ewazen explains that he deliberately evoked the Ukrainian folk music he heard while growing up.

The Slovak RSO plays with style for Kirk Trevor, a highly experienced American conductor who has made many recordings in Eastern Europe. The recording quality is excellent and the balance between soloist and orchestra ideal. Above all, to use brass parlance, John Holt “nails it.” In a word, ta-daaah!

FANFARE: Phillip Scott
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Works on This Recording

Concerto for Trumpet in B flat major by Alexandra Pakhmutova
Performer:  John Holt (Trumpet)
Conductor:  Kirk Trevor
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: USSR 
Venue:  Slovak Radio Building, Studio No.1 
Length: 13 Minutes 7 Secs. 
Notes: Version: 1978
Slovak Radio Building, Studio No.1 (11/24/2005 - 11/28/2005)
Composition written: USSR (1955).
Composition revised: USSR (1978). 
Concerto for Trumpet and Strings by Eric Ewazen
Performer:  John Holt (Trumpet)
Conductor:  Kirk Trevor
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1990; USA 
Venue:  Slovak Radio Building, Studio No.1 
Length: 18 Minutes 0 Secs. 
Notes: Slovak Radio Building, Studio No.1 (11/24/2005 - 11/28/2005) 
Concerto for Trumpet no 2 by Anthony Plog
Performer:  John Holt (Trumpet), Zdenko Bojtos (English Horn)
Conductor:  Kirk Trevor
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: USA 
Venue:  Slovak Radio Building, Studio No.1 
Length: 27 Minutes 59 Secs. 
Notes: Slovak Radio Building, Studio No.1 (11/24/2005 - 11/28/2005)
Composition written: USA (1994 - 1995). 

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