The French Influence
Arthur HONEGGER (1892-1955)
Jacques IBERT (1890-1962)
Concertino [10:05]: Introduction [3:29]; Romance [4:04]; Ballet [2:29]
Georges ENESCO (1881-1955)
André JOLIVET (1905-1974)
Air de Bravoure [1:23]
Eugène BOZZA (1905-1991)
Théo CHARLIER (1868-1944)
Solo de Concours [7:19]
Allegro deciso; Lent [5:22]
Claude PASCAL (b. 1921)
Gerard Schwarz (trumpet)
Kun Woo Paik (piano)
rec. 1971, New School Hall, Manhattan
DELOS DE1047 [41:33]
The twentieth century saw a proliferation of pieces for solo wind instruments with piano accompaniment. This was due in no small part to the Paris Conservatoire, which commissioned solos de concours — literally 'competition pieces', but a better translation would be 'exam pieces' — for their annual student examinations. Many of these have stayed in the repertoire.
The present disc features a couple of these works for trumpet. This recording from 1971, initially released on the now-defunct Harbinger records label, has just been resurrected and reissued by Delos.
The addition of valves to trumpet enabled notes outside the natural harmonic series to be played. By the late 19th century/early 20th century, the trumpet had become a fully-chromatic instrument, and composers took full advantage of its new-found capabilities.
Arthur Honegger wrote the Intrada as the Paris Conservatory solo de concours for 1947. Intrada was subsequently used as a set-piece for the Geneva International Competition in the same year.
The Impromptu by Jacques Ibert was commissioned by the Koussevitzky Music Foundation in 1951. It is very short with French and American jazz influences.
Henri Senée was a French trumpeter and wrote a number of pieces for cornet and trumpet, including the Concertino for cornet and band, played here in an arrangement with piano accompaniment. This three-movement work was written in a romantic vein and is rich in melodies.
Georges Enesco wrote the Légende for the 1906 Paris Conservatoire concours; his name was spelled ‘Enesco’ instead of ‘Enescu’ in the score for this piece. It is a staple in the trumpet repertoire and one of the most well-known solos de concours. It was dedicated to and was premiered by Merri Franquin, professor of trumpet at the Paris Conservatoire from 1894 to 1925.
André Jolivet wrote a number of works for trumpet, including a concerto, a concertino, Arioso Barocco for trumpet and organ, and Air de Bravoure for trumpet and piano. The Air de Bravoure, written in 1953, is a very short but virtuosic work, with lots of bravura.
Eugène Bozza wrote a large number of works for wind instruments, including etudes, chamber works as well as various solos de concours. Many of his pieces share thematic materials, and one could mistake portions of his Caprice for trumpet and piano for another work by him; for example, En Forêt for horn and piano. The Caprice was written as a solo de concours for Eugène Foveau’s trumpet class at the Paris Conservatoire.
Théo Charlier was professor of trumpet at the Royal Conservatory of Liège, Belgium. His tenure in Liège largely coincided with Franquin’s in Paris. He wrote etudes and pieces for his instrument, including the Solo de Concours presented here. This three-movement work has an unusual 5/4-metered finale that has a Russian folk flavour.
Closing out the recital disc is a short Capriccio by French composer Claude Pascal.
American conductor Gerard Schwarz started his career as a trumpet player. This recording was made in 1971, the year he graduated from Juilliard, and two years before he joined the New York Philharmonic as co-principal trumpet. His piano accompanist on this disc, Kun Woo Paik, was a classmate of his through high school and Juilliard. They played many recitals together as students. On this recording, the sound of the trumpet dominates that of the piano. The recording was made with a two-track recorder, which would have made balancing the two instruments in the studio difficult. Schwarz gives a solid performance, although you would not confuse the playing with that of Maurice André.
Gerard Schwarz wrote the programme notes in English (no translation given), with copious information about the pieces as well as examining the development of the trumpet. Schwarz seems to be confused about when Enesco’s Légende was written. He give two dates, 1948 and 1949, in two different paragraphs. My own investigations indicate that the actual date was 1906.
The total playing time is 41:33. It would have been difficult to beef up the original material with filler tracks without affecting the stylistic integrity of the recital programme. Except for the Honegger Intrada and the Enesco Légende, the works featured here have not been widely recorded. Students and players of the trumpet as well as listeners interested in this repertoire and in Schwarz's early years will welcome the return of The French Influence to the catalogue.
Wai Kit Leung
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