The BRASS HERALD: “…you simply won’t find a better trumpet CD released in 2018! Among the frequent fireworks, outstanding high register and sumptuous tone, it contains some of the finest vocal playing I have heard on disc. Listening to Rex on this recording is simply a joy and a pleasure!”
FOUR (4) new major trumpet concertos from renowned composers performed by acclaimed world-class trumpet player, Rex Richardson!
Rex Richardson, trumpet, piccolo trumpet, flugelhorn
Salt River Brass conducted by Patrick Sheridan
Maidstone Wind Symphony conducted by Jonathan Crowhurst
Brass Band of Central Florida conducted by Chad Shoopman
Tokyo Symphonic Winds conducted by James Stephenson
Three World Winds by Allen Vizzutti
Scirocco is performed on piccolo trumpet. The music builds gradually from quiet stirrings to larger gusts of musical motifs. Chinook presents a setting in which the soloist carefully caresses melodic phrases on flugelhorn as well as soars mightily over the ensemble playing trumpet. In Cyclone, swirling, spinning trumpet lines put the trumpet soloist to the test. Rex Richardson and the ensemble “Blow up a storm!”
Freedom of Movement by Andy Scott
The work comprises several sections in one movement, starting with an energetic modal theme in swing feel, eventually opening up for the soloist to improvise. A brief cadenza connects us to a gentle ballad section, more evocative of the world of brass band than of jazz. The reverie is broken by an aggressive, virtuoso “battle” for soloist and percussion, before arriving the final climatic section that blends the language of contemporary jazz band and brass band.
Concerto no. 3 for Trumpet and Brass Band by Anthony Plog
This work uses five paintings of the painter Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944) as inspirations for the various movements. Although Kandinsky was an abstract artist, his paintings suggest certain moods or thoughts, and I have used these to form a sort of architecture for this Concerto. Written for Rex Richardson
Concerto no. 2 for Trumpet and Wind Ensemble, “Rextreme” by James Stephenson
Originally scored for full symphony orchestra, Rextreme showcases its namesake’s tremendous versatility and virtuosity as a trumpet soloist. Written specifically with Rex in mind, employing multi-phonics and circular breathing as well as improvisation, and presenting singular demands on the soloist’s agility and stamina.
As one of the finest virtuosos of our time, American trumpeter Rex Richardson is no stranger to the pages of this magazine. His latest release, “Freedom of Movement: 21st Century Trumpet Concertos”, contains no less than four of the most technically demanding concerti I have heard. Each commissioned and premièred by Rex, these world-premiere recordings are a true testament to the depth of his musical expression and boundless versatility.
The disc opens with Allen Vizzutti’s Three World Winds, a colourful work that immediately showcases Richardson’s warm piccolo trumpet sound, effortlessly floating throughout the entire range of the instrument. Dazzling scherzando sections are interspersed with beautiful singing climaxes and the dramatic middle movement (Chinook – ‘a moist warm wind from the Pacific ocean’) highlights Rex’s stunning flugelhorn playing. Superbly accompanied by Salt River Brass under the direction of Patrick Sheridan, the piece reaches dizzying heights in the third movement (Cyclone), as soaring high passages and ‘tornado-like cadenzas’ bring the finale to a blistering close.
There is a jazzier feel in Andy Scott’s title track, Freedom of Movement, a through-composed concerto for trumpet and wind band, and recorded here with the sensitively balanced accompaniment of Maidstone Wind Symphony and their musical director, Jonathan Crowhurst. Whether in the opening swing section or the luscious ‘ballad’ that follows, this shows Richardson at his lyrical best, his sublimely rich sound and fluency of improvisation combining to magical effect. As the work traverses a range of idioms so the soloist adapts perfectly, leading to a virtuosic and ultimately powerful conclusion.
Anthony Plog’s Trumpet Concerto No. 3 uses paintings by the Russian artist Wassily Kandinsky as the inspiration for its five movements: Rowing, Dreamy, Deluge, Gravestones and Rider. Plog’s musical language contrasts vividly with the other works on the disc: more angular and with distinctive rhythmic interplay between soloist and band (the highly accomplished Brass Band of Central Florida conducted by Chad Shoopman), it is the perfect vehicle for Richardson’s musicality. His mellifluous flugelhorn melody in Dreamy – superbly controlled, and with perfect production and intonation – is particularly impressive; as is the Rex Richardson lightening quick multiple-tonguing in Deluge and Rider.
The final work is James Stephenson’s Concerto No. 2 for Trumpet and Wind Ensemble. Subtitled “Rextreme”, it is written for and dedicated to its namesake; and from the virtuosic flourishes of the opening Vivo it is easy to hear why! Despite the stamina-sapping passages of extreme agility, Richardson’s interpretation remains organic throughout, spinning melodious lines alongside high improvisatory gestures, as well as cadenzas of gymnastic-style extended techniques, incorporating multi- phonics and circular breathing!
Stephenson’s concerto, recorded here with the composer directing the Symphonic Winds Tokyo, is the most successful in straddling both classical and jazz idioms while remaining true to a traditional form, allowing Richardson’s flexibility in a myriad of styles to come to the fore. From the flugelhorn sound in the second movement (which melts beautifully into the texture) to the piccolo trumpet jazz of the Latin-infused ‘Tarantella’ finale, this is seriously impressive trumpet playing. Stephenson’s writing invites Richardson to find his ‘groove’, which he delivers with plentiful charisma and aplomb.
To conclude: you simply won’t find a better trumpet CD released in 2018! Among the frequent fireworks, outstanding high register and sumptuous tone, it contains some of the finest vocal playing I have heard on disc. Listening to Rex on this recording is simply a joy and a pleasure!
Huw Morgan for The Brass Herald