Concerto for Trumpet and Orchestra
I wrote this piece as my doctoral dissertation for Boston University. Having come from a performance background myself, I was attracted to the idea of a concerto. I chose trumpet as the solo instrument because I love the clear, brilliant sound of the instrument, and of course the trumpet works wonderfully as a solo instrument against the combined forces of the orchestra (that is, it can be heard clearly over most orchestral textures, thus giving me many options for the orchestration as I scored the piece.) I was also very aware of the relative lack of "meaty" concertos for trumpet, and I thought there was certainly room for one more.
The first movement, Allegro, is based on principles of sonata form, with a relatively fast first theme and a more lyrical second theme. The trumpet's opening flourish begins with an outline of a G major dominant seventh chord, but by the top of the arpeggio the B (or third) has become a B-flat (thus implying G minor). This major/minor interplay foreshadows the character of the first theme, which plays the ideas of minor and major off of each other. The lyrical second theme borrows its accompanimental figures from the first three notes of the first theme, and the trumpet plays this gently-cascading second theme muted, for a more mysterious color. The movement has the traditional development section followed by a recapitulation and ending with a virtuosic cadenza. The second movement, entitled Cantilena, has a more intimate character, and the trumpet is once again muted as it plays the "singing" solo line. The piece is in ternary form; in the middle section, the trumpet plays the melody, and then this material is taken over by the piano while the trumpet plays an accompanimental line. The unusual, haunting harmonies in this movement come from the simultaneous use of two tonal centers, D major and E-flat major (for instance, the opening melody outlines D major, but with a bass line in E-flat.) The third movement, marked Allegro leggiero, is a quick and sprightly movement following the outline of a rondo form, though one of the intervening sections is itself an A-B-A. The dance-like character of this movement comes from the use of asymmetrical meters (such as 8/8 bars divided into 3 + 3 + 2.) The cadenza in this movement comes to a close with a curious technique: while playing a trill, the trumpeter slowly adjusts the third slide so that the half-step trill gradually becomes unison repeated notes. This piece was originally orchestrated for a classical-size orchestra with double winds and brass, and the piano reduction was commissioned by the trumpeter Mary L. Thornton as part of her doctoral dissertation project at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The piece is now available from Balquhidder Music with an expertly crafted piano part, thanks to pianist Tomoko Kanamaru. To learn more about this piece, please visit: all things trumpet; A Trumpet Musician's Resource Bernofsky - Concerto for Trumpet (Blog by David Cooper)
Gary Peterson, trumpet
Symphony Orchestra, Halsnoy Musikksommerskole
Kjell Seim, conductor
Mary L. Thornton, trumpet
Elaine Moss, piano