Great Southern Land - Australian Music for Trumpet by Brendan Collins. © 2019 Navona Records LLC

CD Spotlight

A Very Impressive Disc

GEOFF PEARCE listens to music for trumpet by Australian composer Brendan Collins

'There is some fantastic playing by all the artists on the disc which is sure to delight all who hear it.'

 

I hadn't heard of Brendan Collins before, but he is a very accomplished Australian composer with a background as a trombonist.

The first work on this disc is scored for piano and trumpet and entitled Concert Gallop. This sets the tone for the quality of the rest of the disc. This work was inspired by the escape of an infamous Australian bushranger, Captain Thunderbolt. It is under six minutes long but goes through a variety of emotions and reflections, as well as some fast passages to give the feeling of galloping horses and pursuit. The playing is precise, the trumpet sound warm, with the right amount of edge and the piano plays as a full partner in this romp.

Listen — Brendan Collins: Concert Gallop
(track 1, 4:17-4:56) © 2019 Navona Records LLC :

The next work is Serenade for trumpet and piano - a kind of ballad and very expressive and tender. The trumpet sings beautifully and the pair handle the subtle shades and rubatos beautifully.

Stomp was written for a trumpet competition. It displays as many aspects of trumpet playing techniques as possible in the space of four minutes, and whilst being a virtuoso show piece, it is not at all flashy and quite satisfying to listen to. Trumpeter Phillip Chase Hawkins and pianist Maria Fuller again show what a great team they are.

Listen — Brendan Collins: Stomp
(track 3, 1:59-2:43) © 2019 Navona Records LLC :

The Sonata for Trumpet and Piano was written for the trumpeter on this recording. The first movement is a Chorale and Presto. The Chorale is a slow, broad hymn-like tune, a little restless because of the harmonic shifts. This gives way to the Presto section. This is quite carefree music, and has a swing to it, in spite of the constant changes in meter.

Listen — Brendan Collins: Presto (Sonata for Trumpet and Piano)
(track 4, 2:28-3:09) © 2019 Navona Records LLC :

The very short second movement, 'Romp', is exactly that - a light and carefree little piece which does not say a lot, but it's not supposed to: it's a little piece for pure enjoyment's sake.

The last movement, 'Ethereal', starts with a fairly long piano introduction before the trumpet enters in the low register. This movement rounds off the sonata in a very satisfying way and again fully illustrates how well these two artists truly compliment each other.

All the works on this disk were written after 2010, but the Pastorale for trumpet, trombone and piano from 2018 is the most recently composed. This was originally conceived as a work for trombone and piano, but this reworking gives prominence to all instruments. It is a beautiful little piece with a small town or rustic feeling, hearkening back to the days when small communities still had relevance. There is a 'delicious in innocence' feeling about this music.

Listen — Brendan Collins: Pastorale for trumpet, trombone and piano
(track 7, 1:58-2:45) © 2019 Navona Records LLC :

The Concerto for two trumpets from the previous year is next. The opening 'Misterioso' is lively and all three performers are in the spotlight. There is a jazzy feel to this with its lively syncopation and rollicking nature.

The second movement is slow and again, all three performers are treated equally as soloists, at times coming together to produce lovely sonorities. This lovely cool music starts with a heartfelt piano introduction.

The final 'Presto' hearkens back very strongly to the Opera Buffa composers of the earlyish nineteenth century, and Andy Lott's second trumpet is given a much more prominent part. There are a lot of trumpet calls and there is an extended cadenza. This is happy and virtuosic music and will delight listeners. I feel this is the most satisfying track on this very fine disc.

Listen — Brendan Collins: Presto (Concerto for two trumpets)
(track 10, 0:41-1:41) © 2019 Navona Records LLC :

In Scherzo for trumpet, violin and piano from 2014, the violin is frequently plucked to provide an off-beat effect, and this is also mimicked by the piano. This is quite a sophisticated little piece that would serve as an impressive encore, sure to have the audience toe tapping.

Listen — Brendan Collins: Scherzo for trumpet, violin and piano
(track 11, 2:01-2:47) © 2019 Navona Records LLC :

The final work is the Concerto for trumpet (2011). Whilst the composer was inspired by classical composers from Vienna, this is in a modern setting. The first movement opens with a piano introduction before the trumpet enters boldly. This is in sonata form with a 'double exposition'. There is nothing academic or stodgy here, however.

The second movement, 'Slow and Dramatic', is the longest track on the disc and the trumpet is given some beautiful slow melodies that encompass the full range of the instrument. I feel a Spanish flavour in this movement.

Listen — Brendan Collins: Slow and Dramatic (Concerto for trumpet)
(track 13, 2:44-3:31) © 2019 Navona Records LLC :

The last movement, 'Allegro Vivace' is a real tour de force, and employs some of the more advanced techniques, contains an extended cadenza and then maintains its intensity right up to the end.

This is a very impressive disc and showcases some music that is very listenable and immediate. There is some fantastic playing by all the artists on the disc which is sure to delight all who hear it.

Copyright © 18 September 2020 Geoff Pearce,
Sydney, Australia

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