RHAPSODY FOR TRUMPET AND WINDS
by Alexander Arutiunian
The American Wind Symphony Editions
C. F. Peters Corporation
Duration: 10 minutes
Reviewed by Vince Corozine
A version for trumpet and piano is available.
The instrumentation: piccolo, 2 flutes, 2 oboes, clarinet in Eb, 2 Bb clarinets, 2 bass clarinets, 2 bassoons, solo trumpet in Bb, timpani, cymbals, tambourine, snare and bass drum, xylophone, glockenspiel, 4 horns in F, 4 trumpets in Bb, 3 trombones, tuba.
This composition requires a virtuoso trumpet soloist. The tessitura for the solo trumpet is from written C below the staff to G above high C. This is a very demanding solo. The level of difficulty for the band accompaniment is difficult and challenging. Seventy-one measures of notes given to the solo trumpet are written above the treble staff, out of 186 measures in the piece. The dynamic range for the composition is from piano to fortissimo.
Trombone 1 and 2 are written in tenor clef for most of the composition, and the lead trombone is asked to play high Bb. Unison horns lead up to a high A above the staff. The rhythms and instrument ranges are feasible for very proficient players.
The orchestration style is sparse throughout, with very little tutti sound and the transparent accompaniment gives the solo trumpet ample breathing room for his solo.
The first movement is marked Moderato maestoso in 4/4 meter. An abundance of chromatic and diatonic chord movement occurs throughout the piece. In one section, the piece is reminiscent of a commercial pop-ballad style.
The composer is effective in his use of imitation between the solo trumpet and horns. The warm sound of the horns is a welcome contrast to the brilliance of the trumpet. Woodwinds are active with numerous sixteenth note scale runs, mostly written in octaves. A section where the woodwinds and horn provide a pedal-point for the soloist is quite effective.
The second movement is marked Andante in 4/4 meter. The sound of resonant trombones creates a dramatically deep sound and provides contrast and relief. The solo trumpet changes to a cup mute for a noticeable, but pleasant change in texture. Woodwinds echo the trumpet theme as the harmonic support is centered in the bassoons, trombones and tuba, thereby producing a low and warm velvety sound.
Many chords progress in the circle of fifths pattern, with the horns and trombones producing an effervescent lustrous sound. The sound of unison horns against the background of the band is quite effective.
Throughout the composition, full chords and rhythmic background figures are scored in the trombones and divided horns. This gives forth a warm richness in tonality. The woodwinds are used to embellish and insert movement and provide interest against slow moving chords in the brass. The composer uses numerous dominant ninth chords with the fifth of the chord omitted. A technique used often by Claude Debussy among others.
The ending is quite effective and exciting-offering perhaps the most lifting moment in the piece. Unison brass crescendo from the root to the tri-tone leading to a unison whole note occurs, while the woodwinds play a full measure of sixteenth notes in octaves leading to an exhilarating final note played fortissimo in five octaves.
I recommend this piece for bands that wish to feature a virtuoso trumpeter. The band parts are within the playing ability of excellent high school wind ensembles and university bands.
The style of the piece varies from rhythmic transparency to warm (almost commercial-sounding) scoring. The rhythmic effects are cleverly handled and the instruments are carefully scored. However, do not expect a full tutti sound to emerge, or expect this piece to emotionally “grab” the audience. The five-octave ending gives a charge of energy and is definitely the highlight of this piece emotionally!
The contrasts in textures and rhythmic variations make this a good quality piece to program.
Vince Corozine Music , Author of “Arranging Music for the Real World” by Mel Bay Publications