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Thierry ESCAICH (b.1965)
Résurgences - Concerto for trumpet and orchestra (2002) [25.33]
Maurice OHANA (1914-1992)

Concertino for trumpet and orchestra (1957) [14.17]
Nicolas BACRI (b.1961)

Concerto No. 2 for trumpet and strings Op. 65 (2000) [12.00]
Eric Aubier (trumpet)
Orchestre de Bretagne/Jean-Jacques Kantorow
rec. Apr, Sept 2002, DDD
world premiere recordings
The French Trumpet Vol. 2
PIERRE VERANY PV703021 [52.00]


Escaich, after studying with prize-laden attainment, at the Paris Conservatoire was, in 1997, appointed organist at the St-Etienne-du-Mont church in Paris. He has accompanied religious services since the age of seven. At the age of 38 he has many works in his portfolio: Esquisses for organ (1988), Symphony No. 1 Kyrie d'une Messe Imaginaire (1992), Chants du Ténèbres for saxophone and strings (1992) and a 1995 Organ Concerto.

His single movement Trumpet Concerto was written between 2001 and 2002. It is in the form of a tone poem with an eloquent orator's role for the trumpet solo. This is an instinctive fantasy - a rhapsodic pilgrimage whose 'feet' one feels are guided by spontaneity rather than 'route map'. It is modern, haunted, desperate, the journey of a mind that is tortured and then consoled (7.55) and offered balm (18.34). It is modern in expression and uses dissonance with the lightest of touches. Melody is what distinguishes this work - listen to the solo violin at 8.55. The violin solo has an important role as interlocutor throughout this piece. The work is at times restless, full of the feeling of the pilgrim looking fearfully over his shoulder. The music reminded me somewhat of Othmar Macha's Violin Concerto (Arco Diva, recently reviewed). Aubier has plenty to do and much brilliant work is required including dialogue with solo voices in the orchestra … and not just the leader's violin. At 14.11 and 22.42 the terse wildness of the conversation with the brass is surely influenced by the writing of William Schuman. This is an impressive piece which but for the sanguine exuberance of the final few minutes would well have merited the title 'De profundis clamavi'.

 

Ohana was born in Casablanca. He entered Paris's Schola Cantorum in 1936. In 1946 he founded the Zodiaque group which rejected 'isms' and classification in favour of artistic freedom. Not for him the enchainment of neo-classicism or the rigours of serial method. True to his Andalusian blood he explored Spanish music there setting timbre above structure. He took against both the violin and the clarinet, finding them either too sweet or too laden with European musical history. The oboe was acceptable seeming to link with Greek and Berber genes. In the drum rhythms in the finale of the Concertino we can surely hear North African drum patterns. Ohana found inspiration in landscape, sea, wind and rain. The Concertino is a work of aristocratic, even regal, writing for the trumpet. The soloist shows a nobility that places the work light years away from music-hall, Tijuana or the Salvation Army. Jazz puts in only the briefest of poignant appearances at 5.20 in the finale which ends not with bang but a whimper. The Concertino was suppressed by the composer during his lifetime. His publishers were told that it could only be published after his death.

 

Bacri's First Trumpet Concerto was written in 1999 and as the composer says was written for trumpeters whereas the Second Concerto was written for Bacri alone. It is, says the composer, a form of conversation with Bach. Bacri puts Aubier through his paces with writing taking the trumpeter into spheres where the metaphorical oxygen is thin. This succinct work, written in tribute to Bach (but not obviously emulating that composer), falls into three movements played without break although the dividing seams are obvious. I can understand why there should be no break. Today's audiences are too easily given to inter-movement applause which would defile the spell of this prayerful and virtuosic meditation. The idiom of the concerto is mildly modernistic; perhaps more so than the Sinfonietta for Strings recently recorded by the l'Orchestre des Régions Européenes. The work ends in stellar regions with an optimism similar to that which also steals victory in the Escaich piece.

Eric Aubier's virtuosity, both in brash, diving descent and rocket-like ascent as well as in poetry of expression and thoughtful reverie really makes this disc. When he hits a top note he does so with invincible and magnificent stability. The orchestra tackles these by no means easy works with an accomplishment that should be the envy of Parisian orchestras let alone the regional competition.

All three works, despite their disparate titles and associated expectations, have a serious but not pompous role for the trumpet. There is poignant oratory and earnest rhetoric pregnant with psychological drama. When Aubier engages afterburners make sure you are sitting down! The Bacri is the most overtly virtuosic piece here though all three test the soloist in diverse ways. Excellent composer notes, background and recording to match.

Trumpeters will want to hear this but the disc's audience deserves to be much wider than the trumpet community and its entourage.

Rob Barnett

See also Bacri Sinfonietta

A NOTE FROM NICOLAS BACRI at nbacri64@wanadoo.fr

My first trumpet concerto is dedicated to Sir Michael Tippett. It was written more for the trumpeter than for my pleasure. The reference to Tippett was my "blue sky corner". It was in fact written in 1992 not as you have said in the review. It was therefore written while Tippett was still alive. I had obtained the permission via Tippett's office to dedicate the work to him. Unfortunately he died few weeks before the CD was issued and thus never heard it.

I regret that you didn't speak about the jazz in my Second Concerto. It is a unusual feature in my music and I consider this was daring to put jazz in a work "im angedenken J.S. Bach". Also you fail to mention the continuous shifting between tonality and atonality in my works. This is certainly a feature in my Sinfonietta which does in fact make a reference of Lully. The introduction to the (before the sonatina begin) of the third movement is composed by Lully. It was taken, and of course, much "disturbed" harmonically and rhythmically but not melodically, entirely from "L'Opération de la Taille" by Lully. In the Sinfonietta I agree on the influences you mention except the Sinfoniettas by Herrmann and Waxman that I do not know and Schmitt’s Janiana which I do not know either.

I am very flattered when you say that I have chosen the name ‘Sinfonietta’ only for the brevity of the work. But it wouldn't be honest to let you say that without reacting.

Actually I did call that piece ‘Sinfonietta’ because I think the material is lighter than usually in my music. If you come in October 2003 to the Barbican you will hear my Symphony N°6 which, in the recording that is published this month (Sept 2003) by Gramophone, lasts 12 minutes. This is a real symphony, not a Sinfonietta.

My Sinfonietta For Strings is not a real symphony (otherwise I would have numbered it N°7), but an entertaining piece related to the symphonic form.

I am sincerely grateful to you for comparing it so advantageously to the Serenade by Lennox Berkeley, with which, I believe, it shares more in spirit, than with true symphonies.

If people would like to learn more about my site www.nicolasbacri.com

Nicolas Bacri


 



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