Henri TOMASI (1901-1971)
The Works for trumpet
Concerto for Trumpet and Orchestra (1948) [16:21]
Suite for Three Trumpets (1964) [6:30]
Variations on a Gregorian Salve Regina (1963) [6:15]
Holy Week in Cuzco (trumpet and orchestra) (1962) [5:48]
Triptych (1957) [4:42]
Three Studies (1955) [7:10]
Liturgical Fanfares for brass ensemble, chorus and soprano (1944) [19:36]
Holy Week in Cuzco (trumpet and organ) (1962) [6:14]
Eric Aubier (trumpet)
Thierry Escaich (organ); Alexandre Baty; Frédéric Mellard (trumpet); Nikolaos Samaltanos (piano); Orchestre de l‘Opéra Nationale de Paris/Marius Constant; Ensembles de Cuivres et Choeur de Rouen/Jean-Philippe Dambreville; Orchestre de Bretagne/François-Xavier Bilger
rec. France, 2011, 2002, 2000, 1995, 1988. DDD.
INDESENS IND 038 [71:34]
This well-documented French CD shows inspired and diligent attention to the music of neglected French maître Henri Tomasi.
While Aubier’s contemporary, Maurice André, has been given the trumpet limelight, Eric Aubier is no less deserving of a place in the sun. Here he shares the centre-spot with the composer. Aubier is no stranger to the genre and has recorded a collection of modern French concertos for Pierre Verany. There’s another – with composer-conductor, Marius Constant - for Indesens (review due to appear here soon). The label has also just issued a very attractive collection of Tomasi’s Corsican songs alongside an extremely impressive tone poem for two pianos.
The Trumpet Concerto runs the gamut from dreamy siesta sentimentality to Waltonian brilliance. The use of the fibre mute in the first movement imparts a nicely louche atmosphere. The second is a sort of nocturne. Its floating aimless progress feels like a pilgrimage in dreams. The finale has plenty of whooping uproar and attack. The euphoric display is rapped and rippled out with orchestra and Aubier in full cry rising to a victorious final shout.
The Variation grégoriennes is an essay in statuesque awe - like a condor circling a rocky pinnacle. It on occasion draws on the pagan dreaminess of the tone poem Tam-Tam.
The Suite for three trumpets comprises a Façade-like Havanaise, a Lento égéen – all warm South - and an eccentric little angular Danse Bolivienne.
Holy Week in Cuzco is heard here in two versions – with orchestra and with organ. At first it feels like Copland’s Quiet City and would contrast well with the trumpet and orchestra miniatures by Alan Hovhaness. Its fervour flows and eddies yet is interspersed with moments of peaceful meditation and awe. There are moments when one can think of this as a French echo of the quiet meadows across which the trumpet calls in RVW's Pastoral Symphony. It closes in warlike rasping display. There’s real determination in this music which ends with a sustained stratospheric call from the solo instrument. The music is hardly less impressive in its reappearance for the final track in the trumpet and organ version. Here one feels an even more intense urgency about the virtuosity. The organ italicises the apocalyptic accent of the music.
The outer movements of Triptyque for trumpet and piano balances playful virtuosity in the outer movements display and all the soloistic tricks in the glossary with an urbane man-about-town absurdist jollity. In the central panel the music is still and serene.
The Etude for solo trumpet comprises: a smooth and undulating Thème et variations, an Etude Héroïque, all showy fanfaring from the dizzy ramparts and an Etude Cambodgienne. The Far East accent in the last piece is in touch with the sort of pagan mystical writing to be found in his 1930s exotica such as Tam-Tam, Jeux de Gieishes, and Féëries Laotiennes not to mention Noa-Noa (1957) based on the Tahitian writings of Paul Gauguin.
The Fanfares liturgiques might be familiar if you have the Marco Polo CD of Tomasi’s Requiem pour la Paix. They are ‘fanfare’ in nature but have more musical narrative than the genre encourages you to expect. With the exception of the Annonciation (I) all four fanfares are from Tomasi’s opera Miguel Mañara (1944) once available in full on Forlane. The Annonciation is a little like Ravel’s Pavane. The proud second fanfare (Evangile) has a very fulsome sound and fascinating writing that includes some strange discreet bubbling noises. The third (Apocalypse) crackles, romps and gallops with a sense of smoke drifting and gusting wind. The finale is a Procession Nocturne with a solo soprano - her sung words are not printed. This lours in regal style before rising to serene yet commanding heights. The indomitable progress of the piece and the singer’s remarkable coloratura complexity takes us, with great swaying majesty, into a dazzling firmament. From this the music sinks back into pastoral meadows. The Choeurs de Rouen de Haute Normandie and soprano Anna Stefaniak give a truly awesome performance of a remarkable work.
The well constructed and extensive liner-notes are by Lionel Pons. There are lots of good photos of Tomasi in the booklet.
It is to be hoped that this disc alongside issues by Marco Polo, Dutton, Farao and Lyrinx will encourage further delving into the Tomasi treasury. A collection – in fact several - of his orchestral music would be very welcome. Let’s have his three symphonic poems Cyrnos for orchestra with piano (1929), Vocero (1932) and Tam-Tam (1931). Then there’s the 1936 Games of Geishas for wind quintet, harp and piano and string quartet, the Lao Extravaganza (1939), Noa-Noa for tenor or baritone, mixed choir and instrumental ensemble (1957), Retours a Tipasa (1966) and the Symphonie du Tiers Monde (1968).
Adventurous listeners will be rewarded with quite remarkable music - tonal yet gaunt, serene and exciting.
Rob Barnett
Adventurous listeners rewarded with quite remarkable music - tonal yet gaunt, serene and exciting.