Some of the nation’s top military bands are now forming trumpet ensembles, including the “Pershing’s Own” band of the United States Army. The ensemble was featured at the 2010 International Trumpet Guild conference in Sydney, Australia, and they have premiered works by composers like James Stephenson and Phil Snedecor. It’s interesting how trumpet sections of military bands are forming ensembles to play trumpet ensemble music by modern composers, and not just military fanfares. The press room of their website is found at the link below. They are currently working on recording a debut album.
My thoughts on Smith’s ideas about instrumentation is that the brass ensemble of Ewald’s day and the instruments themselves probably did not look too different than all of ours. We have to look at the traditions out of which brass chamber music grew, according to him. I think it’s absolutely important to examine the tradition out of which these grew.
It seems that the American Brass Quintet played a huge role in the re-dubuting of the Ewald quintets. They performed them at Carnegie Hall and even got musicians in Russia talking about them again!
As far as rotary vs. piston valves, there is indeed a slight difference in tone color where trumpets are concerned, but it seems still unlikely to me that Ewald and most composers for brass would write with an ultra-specific ensemble of rotary valve instruments! We must be careful not to read into history so much that our imaginations come up with ideas like this. I don’t agree with Forsyth that a true legato cannot be achieved on the slide trombone. It is entirely possible and as a young music student, I never completely realized essentially every note had to be tongued on the trombone to avoid glissandos until about halfway through my undergrad degree. I think a legato can be achieved, and I know for a fact that Bob Dorer of the Minnesota Orchestra slightly tongues lip slurs on the trumpet. When he played for use in studio class, he certainly sounded very legato in come of his playing, so yes, I do not believe Forsyth’s claim.
First, for those of you following this blog because you’re interested in trumpet ensemble repertoire, this post won’t be devoted to trumpet ensemble repertoire, but a discussions we having our brass literature class at the University of Iowa. You can check out what my classmates and Prof. Manning are saying if you visit the site at http://abelcentral.blogspot.com/. Anyway, to answer Prof. Manning’s questions about the Ewald quintets:
I didn’t know much about Ewald other than that he was Russian, one of the first composers to write for the brass quintet, and that his quintets are one of the very few pieces the brass quintet has from the Romantic era. I had didn’t know he wrote four quintets (I only thought there were three).
Smith’s article reminded me of the importance of not claiming a revolutionary idea to be the Gospel truth without examining the facts from as many viewpoints as possible. It is so tempting as a human researcher to think we’ve discovered something that was forgotten about a century ago and claim we have found an incredible piece of missing history. Level-headedness is essential when researching.
It is intriguing to think that Ewald could have written his quintets for an ensemble of five instruments, each outfitted with rotary, but Smith proves this is not the case. Facts do not lie, and people get trapped in insignificant details or ones that simply are not true when they present research.
More coming soon!!!
I came across Vaclav Nelhybel’s name through his wind band music and because of his brass trio, which has become a standard in the brass trio literature (it was recorded by the University of Maryland Brass Trio and you can find the album on Spotify). I think that his 12 Concert Pieces for Three Trumpets is worth checking out since it’s a collection of pieces with a composer of some stature in the brass world and since no recordings seem to exist on YouTube or even WorldCat. If anyone knows this work, I would be interested to hear your comments!
Contrasts for Trumpets includes noted trumpeters Bud Herseth, Anthony Plog, Otto Sauter, Bo Nilsson, Claes Stromblad, and Urban Agnas teaming up to perform Koetsier’s Concertino, Plog’s Suite for Six Trumpets, and LoPresti’s Suite for Five Trumpets, and more. The Iowa graduate trumpet ensemble will be performing the LoPresti suite on its upcoming tour of the Chicago area in mid-April, and this CD was recommended to me by Dave Nelson, a fellow trumpet performance graduate student at the University of Iowa. It is worth hearing such noted trumpeters perform standard trumpet ensemble literature. Thanks, Dave, for letting me know about this great album!
The album is available from ArkivMusic at http://www.arkivmusic.com/classical/album.jsp?album_id=27695&album_group=14.
To follow up on my latest post about the Enesco trumpet quartet I uncovered, I also found out that another 20th century French composer (Henri Tomasi) famous for his virtuosic Trumpet Concerto, wrote a Suite for Three Trumpets. A great recording of it is on the CD Dallas Trumpets (actually available for download on iTunes), featuring players from the Dallas Symphony’s trumpet section. Britten’s Fanfare for St. Edmundsbury is included on the CD, another trumpet ensemble work by a major composer. Even if composers like Tomasi, Enesco, or Britten wrote for small trumpet ensembles, I think that it is still worth noting that major twentieth century composers did write for an ensemble that only included trumpets. For many years, I believed that the only music that existed for trumpet ensemble were pieces written during my short lifetime or in the Renaissance or Baroque. These twentieth century composers took the time to compose for trumpet ensemble, and I believe their music should be played more often. I’d love to hear your comments about the Dallas Trumpets CD!