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Permit Me Voyage - Transcriptions For Trumpet / Craig Morris, Valentina Lisitsa

Debussy / Morris / Lisitsa
Release Date: 10/25/2011 
Label:  Naxos   Catalog #: 8572506   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Claude DebussyRobert SchumannJohannes BrahmsSamuel Barber
Performer:  Craig MorrisValentina Lisitsa
Number of Discs: 1 
Length: 0 Hours 58 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

PERMIT ME VOYAGE Craig Morris (tpt); Valentina Lisitsa (pn) NAXOS 8.572506 (58:22)

DEBUSSY Suite bergamasque. SCHUMANN Fantasiestücke, op. 73. BRAHMS Clarinet Sonata No. 2. BARBER 4 Songs, op. 13 Read more

As Craig Morris explains in his excellent and concise program notes, the title for this album is drawn from a poem by James Agee that Barber set as a song in his op. 13. As Morris states, “The title fits this album perfectly because it captures the idea of a voyage combined with a request for passage.” That “request for passage” is “the traversing [of] sacred ground” in making original and first-ever transcriptions of a variety of classic chamber-music compositions and songs for his own instrument, the trumpet. Despite his trepidation, Morris has accomplished that task with considerable dexterity. While I find that the adaptations of the pieces by Schumann and Barber are more natural than those of the works by Brahms and Debussy, where the originals are further removed from the derivations and the creation of the solo instrumental part correspondingly required a greater degree of editorial intervention, they all work and work quite well.

Except for his performance of Thomas Sleeper’s Trumpet Concerto (praised by Peter Burwasser in Fanfare 31:4), Morris has not previously made a solo recording. It is therefore a double pleasure to welcome his first solo recital disc. While there are many excellent trumpet players recording recital albums today, Morris—appointed principal trumpet of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at age 32—can rightly claim to be in the most elite ranks, and this disc shows why. The first thing that struck me was the astonishing variety of tone colors that Morris magically conjures from his instrument, which I cannot recall ever hearing equaled by any other trumpeter. Note, for example, in the Debussy pieces his apt use of a mute in the “Prélude” and the weighty, mellow tone with which he opens “Clair de Lune.” Second, this remarkable tonal palette is allied to phenomenal breath control—equally evident in his seamlessly liquid legato and his abilities both to shade dynamics to the finest gradations and to sustain exceptionally long phrases. Third, there is the impeccable taste, and insightful imagination with which Morris employs all of this technical skill to realize performances that faithfully capture the style and spirit of each composer. His Debussy has delicacy and fluid elegance; his Schumann, dreaminess and playfulness; his Brahms, autumnal reflectiveness; his Barber, quiet intimacy.

Pianist Valentina Lisitsa also has a previous CD (in her case, live performances from the mid 1990s) positively reviewed in these pages, this time by Peter J. Rabinowitz back in 24:2, who praised her “gorgeous tone” and “bone-crushing technique” in pieces by Beethoven, Chopin, and Rachmaninoff. Here, of course, she is a partner in repertoire where virtuoso display is not in the forefront, but she fulfills her accompanying role most ably, rendering the Debussy, Schumann, and Barber pieces with lovely tone and delicate shading of dynamics and phrasing, while bringing stormy turbulence and power to the Brahms. The warm, somewhat forward recorded sound balances the two players well. Trumpet players everywhere are now in Morris’s debt for these additions to the instrument’s solo literature, as are fanciers of trumpet music for this imaginative, well-conceived, and superbly executed album.

FANFARE: James A. Altena
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Works on This Recording

Suite bergamasque by Claude Debussy
Performer:  Craig Morris (Trumpet/Flugelhorn), Valentina Lisitsa (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1890/1905; France 
Phantasiestücke (3) for Clarinet and Piano, Op. 73 by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Craig Morris (Trumpet), Valentina Lisitsa (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1849; Germany 
Sonata for Clarinet/Viola and Piano no 2 in E flat major, Op. 120 no 2 by Johannes Brahms
Performer:  Craig Morris (Trumpet), Valentina Lisitsa (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1894; Germany 
Songs (4), Op. 13 by Samuel Barber
Performer:  Craig Morris (Trumpet), Valentina Lisitsa (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1937-1940; USA 

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