Stevens shows his music
John A. Moskal II | Carmel, IN USA | 07/04/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Thomas Stevens, now former principal trumpet of the LA Philharmonic, shows what it means to be a musician on this record. His playing shows the many sides of the 20th century trumpet and the skills that made him one of the nation's best trumpet players.
The CD opens with the Sonata for trumpet and piano by Paul Hindemith. I have many recordings of this piece (I think 5 last I checked) and this is the one I keep coming back to. The musicality, and more importantly here, the emotion is far more in command than anything else. Written after his escape to America at the beginning of WWII this piece is nothing if not an emotional bomb explosion against the Nazis. Stevens opens up with fire from the first note and never lets up. The second movement pokes fun, and finally in the third movement the soulful sorrow of tragedy comes through his gorgeous playing and leaves you crying at the end where "All little men must die." (written in the sheet music by Hindemith at that part)
Then are a number of other well known pieces such as the Bozza Caprice, Barat's Andante and Scherzo, and Ropartz's Andante and Allegro. For younger trumpet players, this is the CD for you. Steven's performance of the Andante and Allegro is masterful and musicality shines through every note. This is a great learning tool for any young trumpet player as just about every high school trumpet player has played this piece, but rarely does one ever hear a performer of the caliber of Thomas Stevens playing this literature. Then there is his technically amazing performances of both the Caprice and the Andante and Scherzo which, in spite of their technique never lose the musicality that he was famous for as an orchestral trumpet player.
One last highlight for me is the Poulenc sonata for Trombone, Trumpet, and Horn. These three musicians unite in a gorgeous sound and interpretation that shows the beauty of Poulenc's writing particularly his expertise in the flowing melody shown in his many operas and art songs for which he is most famous.
Succinctly this CD is a gem for any trumpet player or enthusiast's collection. For those even just interested in the chamber sound of a trumpet, this album is a wonderful addition, however, if one is new to the 20th century trumpet chamber sound, I would recommend this as a great second or third album to pick up; but a mere literature selection advice on my part. One might consider Philip Smith's CD on the Cala label, part of the New York Legends series as a first installment for a better introduction to this class of sound (see my other reviews for more information)."