Notes and Editorial Reviews
John Holt (tpt, flugelhorn); Anshel Brusilow
, Kirk Trevor
, Clay Couturiaux
, cond; University of North Texas Ch O;
University of North Texas Ch O
CRYSTAL 769 (56:49)
Trumpet Concerto in A?.
Trumpet Concerto in E?.
Trumpet Concerto in D.
Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue. That might describe the contents of this trumpet fanciers’ program. The old, as in a comfortable, well-worn shoe, is Hummel’s Trumpet Concerto, second only to Haydn’s in popularity among trumpet concertos; thanks to an attentive reader, I recently learned that both concertos were originally written for an instrument called a keyed bugle or a keyed trumpet. Something new, relatively speaking, are Alexander Arutiunian’s Trumpet Concerto (1950) and Robert Peaslee’s
(1973), the latter also filling the “blue” category. And for something borrowed, we have a concerto adapted for trumpet from a Tartini violin concerto in E Major.
John Holt plays principal trumpet in the Dallas Opera Orchestra and is associate professor of trumpet at the University of North Texas. The program he has put together for this disc is an unusually varied one, not just in its assortment of works, but in Holt’s use of an array of instruments. The Arutiunian, Hummel, and Peaslee were recorded in 2007 at UNT’s Murchison Performing Arts Center. The Tartini was recorded a year earlier in Bratislava.
The Trumpet Concerto in A?-Major by Armenian-born Arutiunian (b.1920) is no stranger to recordings; 10 are currently listed. Though his output is fairly large and encompasses most musical genres, it’s by this concerto that Arutiunian is best known in the West. Often compared to his earlier compatriot Khachaturian, Arutiunian survived the Soviet years unscathed by going along and getting along with the Communist authorities, even being awarded the Stalin Prize in 1949 and being named People’s Artist of the USSR in 1970. Only a year before Arutiunian received the Stalin Prize, Shostakovich had been denounced by the chairman of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic and the general secretary of the Composer’s Union for failing to tow the Party line. Arutiunian’s Trumpet Concerto, like most of what he wrote, was designed not to rock the boat. Though it’s set out as a single movement, its internal sections—fast, slow, fast—reflect a classically oriented three-movement structure. Strongly inflected by Armenian folk melodies and rhythms, colorfully orchestrated, and providing ample opportunity for the soloist to display his technical virtuosity, the piece is in a similar vein to the populist style one hears in much of Khachaturian’s music.
Arutiunian began work on the concerto in 1943, but didn’t complete it until 1950 because the player for whom it was intended, Zsolak Vartasarian, principal trumpeter of the Armenian Philharmonic, was killed in the war. Soviet trumpeter Timofei Dokschitzer was the first to record the concerto in 1981. That recording is still available on an RCA Gold Seal CD with the USSR Ministry of Defense Symphonic Band led by Anatoly Maltsev. For the Arutiunian, Holt plays a B?-Mount Vernon Bach trumpet and a cadenza written for him by UNT colleague Joseph Klein.
There’s little to be said about either the Hummel or Tartini concertos. The former is a staple of the trumpeter’s repertoire and a favorite with audiences. The latter is, or was, a violin concerto, rather skillfully arranged here by Holt, considering that the trumpet of Tartini’s day would not have been well suited to producing all of the notes or string figurations of the original. For the Hummel, Holt uses a short-bell E?-trumpet by Yamaha, and for the Tartini, a Schilke piccolo trumpet in A.
Richard Peaslee (b.1930) is apt to be the least familiar composer on the program; certainly his
is, since this appears to be its first recording. Peaslee is perhaps known for his work in theater and television, but he has written a handful of works for the concert stage.
, as its title suggests, is a mood piece that evokes nocturnal vibes. The piece was written specifically for flugelhorn alternating with trumpet. The flugelhorn resembles a trumpet on the outside, but inside it has a wider, conical bore as opposed to the trumpet’s cylindrical bore, thus lending it a somewhat darker, more subdued, mellower sound, which has been described as “halfway between a trumpet and a horn.” For this performance, Holt plays a Bobby Shew model Yamaha flugelhorn and trumpets in B? and C.
A winning trumpet recital I can easily recommend.
FANFARE: Jerry Dubins
Works on This Recording
Concerto for Trumpet by Alexander Arutiunian
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1950; Armenia
Length: 15 Minutes 47 Secs.
Concerto for Trumpet in D major by Giuseppe Tartini
Written: 18th Century; Italy
Date of Recording: 2006
Length: 10 Minutes 8 Secs.
Nightsongs, for ensemble by Richard Peaslee
Length: 10 Minutes 47 Secs.
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