The twentieth century saw a proliferation of pieces for solo wind
instruments with piano accompaniment. This was due in no small part to the
Paris Conservatoire, which commissioned solos de concours
literally 'competition pieces', but a better translation would
be 'exam pieces' — for their annual student examinations. Many
of these have stayed in the repertoire.
The present disc features a couple of these works for trumpet. This
recording from 1971, initially released on the now-defunct Harbinger records
label, has just been resurrected and reissued by Delos.
The addition of valves to trumpet enabled notes outside the natural
harmonic series to be played. By the late 19th century/early 20th century,
the trumpet had become a fully-chromatic instrument, and composers took full
advantage of its new-found capabilities.
Arthur Honegger wrote the Intrada
as the Paris Conservatory
solo de concours
for 1947. Intrada
was subsequently used
as a set-piece for the Geneva International Competition in the same
by Jacques Ibert was commissioned by the
Koussevitzky Music Foundation in 1951. It is very short with French and
American jazz influences.
Henri Senée was a French trumpeter and wrote a number of pieces for cornet
and trumpet, including the Concertino
for cornet and band, played
here in an arrangement with piano accompaniment. This three-movement work
was written in a romantic vein and is rich in melodies.
Georges Enesco wrote the Légende
for the 1906 Paris Conservatoire
concours; his name was spelled ‘Enesco’ instead of ‘Enescu’ in the score for
this piece. It is a staple in the trumpet repertoire and one of the most
well-known solos de concours
. It was dedicated to and was premiered
by Merri Franquin, professor of trumpet at the Paris Conservatoire from 1894
André Jolivet wrote a number of works for trumpet, including a concerto, a
concertino, Arioso Barocco
for trumpet and organ, and Air de
for trumpet and piano. The Air de Bravoure
in 1953, is a very short but virtuosic work, with lots of bravura.
Eugène Bozza wrote a large number of works for wind instruments, including
etudes, chamber works as well as various solos de concours
. Many of
his pieces share thematic materials, and one could mistake portions of his
for trumpet and piano for another work by him; for example,
for horn and piano. The Caprice
was written as a
solo de concours
for Eugène Foveau’s trumpet class at the Paris
Théo Charlier was professor of trumpet at the Royal Conservatory of Liège,
Belgium. His tenure in Liège largely coincided with Franquin’s in Paris. He
wrote etudes and pieces for his instrument, including the Solo de
presented here. This three-movement work has an unusual
5/4-metered finale that has a Russian folk flavour.
Closing out the recital disc is a short Capriccio
composer Claude Pascal.
American conductor Gerard Schwarz started his career as a trumpet player.
This recording was made in 1971, the year he graduated from Juilliard, and
two years before he joined the New York Philharmonic as co-principal
trumpet. His piano accompanist on this disc, Kun Woo Paik, was a classmate
of his through high school and Juilliard. They played many recitals together
as students. On this recording, the sound of the trumpet dominates that of
the piano. The recording was made with a two-track recorder, which would
have made balancing the two instruments in the studio difficult. Schwarz
gives a solid performance, although you would not confuse the playing with
that of Maurice André.
Gerard Schwarz wrote the programme notes in English (no translation
given), with copious information about the pieces as well as examining the
development of the trumpet. Schwarz seems to be confused about when Enesco’s
was written. He give two dates, 1948 and 1949, in two
different paragraphs. My own investigations indicate that the actual date
The total playing time is 41:33. It would have been difficult to beef up
the original material with filler tracks without affecting the stylistic
integrity of the recital programme. Except for the Honegger Intrada
and the Enesco Légende
, the works featured here have not been
widely recorded. Students and players of the trumpet as well as listeners
interested in this repertoire and in Schwarz's early years will
welcome the return of The French Influence
to the catalogue.
Wai Kit Leung