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Trumpet Colors
William SCHMIDT (b.1926)
Jazzberries (1982) [12:10]
Alex SHAPIRO (b.1962)
Elegy [7:46]
Astor PIAZZOLLA (1921-1992)
Las Cuatro estaciones porteñas - arranged by Ishmael Betancor and Carlos Rivero [25:20]
Scott ROBBINS (b.1964)
Three Blues for cello and trumpet (1988) [9:34]
Robert J. BRADSHAW (b.1970)
Statements, Commanding (2004) [15:05]
Trio Chromos; Ishmael Betancor (trumpet): José Luis Castillo (piano): Carlos Rivero (cello)
rec. Parafino, U.L.P.G.C, undated
CRYSTAL RECORDS CD766 [70:31]



It’s not every day, on record or in concert, that one hears a trumpet-cello-piano trio, and the range of works written for the combination is hardly vast in any case. But the ever-enterprising Crystal Records – never yet encountered a disc of theirs that didn’t tickle my aural fancy in some way – have come up with a winning selection in the shape of Trumpet Colors.
 
We start with William Schmidt’s Jazzberries – which includes Raspberry Riffs, Blackberry Blues, Boysenberry Boogie and Strawberry Jam. Has Schmidt been listening to Martinů’s Revue de Cuisine? That’s how it opens anyhow. The Blues has some (naturally) bluesy Harmon mute work for the trumpet and the boogie of the third movement comes garnished with pounding piano, cello pizzicati and a smeary, rolling drive.
 
The melancholy falling theme of Alex Shapiro’s Elegy hints a little at Brahms. The plangent cello line is seconded by the trumpet and supported by the supple piano, which then picks up the mood and all three instruments conjoin in lyric reflection. It was written originally for the standard piano trio of violin, cello and piano.
 
The Piazzolla is an arrangement, predominately by trumpeter Ishmael Betancor although Gilberto Rivero arranged the second movement of the four, Verano Porteño. Crystal or the musicians or both have decided to separate the four movements so we hear two by two. Obviously programming would obviate that, but it’s worth noting that Crystal has avoided a twenty-five minute block of Piazzolla in the middle of their programme. Invariably we are going to miss the bandoneon but there’s still plenty of potently languid work in the central panel of Spring and some combustible lyric sentiment in Winter.
 
Then there’s Scott Robbins’ Three Blues for cello and trumpet written in 1988. This has some varied and interesting textures, the cello sounding vaguely Eastern in the first movement and there’s plenty of flutter-tongue trumpet work in the second along with churning colour. The finale has Gershwinesque tints and at its heart a tune that sounds like Stormy Weather. Robert Bradshaw’s Statements, Commanding is couched in approachable modernist style – busy, crystalline, and embracing tight, taut writing. The most exciting movement is the last, which is rhythmically challenging, propulsive and exacting but elsewhere there are plenty of opportunities for quietly reflective moments.
 
Enjoyable and never trivial, these works are excellently realised by the trio – fine sound as well completes the pleasure.
 
Jonathan Woolf
 



 

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