Brahms Schumann Schubert

New Recording in 2023

Brahms Schumann Schubert

Original transcriptions for Trumpet

“Study Bach, there you will find everything.”
Johannes Brahms

In January of 2023, pianist John Wilson and I met at Skywalker Ranch in Marin County California to record the completion of my transcriptions project, this time, works from the Romantic period. We were joined by producer and engineer David v.R Bowles, who created my Bach album, as well as tenor Nick Phan with whom I had already recorded Handel’s ‘The Trumpet Shall Sound’ a few years back.

After Bach, the compositions I consider to be among the most profound and worthy of transcription for trumpet are found with Brahms, Schumann, and Schubert. These were the works I began studying and eventually performing when I returned to the trumpet, in 1989, after living a monastic life for four musically fallow years.  It was thanks to my great fortune when the legendary Klezmer clarinetist Giora Fiedman, became a friend and mentor after a chance meeting in the forest, and eventually prodded me to come out of my period of renunciation to play again with a new sense of connection to music and sounds. These complex works motivated and challenged me to relearn to play in a more expressive and intimate way as I slowly sought to restore my abilities.

The two Brahms sonatas Opus 120, originally written for clarinet and alternately played on viola, were written only because a virtuoso clarinetist, Richard Mülfield, inspired Brahms despite having declared himself retired from composing. Without that friendship and spark of inspiration, we would not have these late masterpieces. As a true heir and successor, Brahms was like Bach in that his music could be played by other instruments as a practical matter, so these two works should be considered, without hesitation, fair game for the trumpet. I hope that this recording will show my colleagues that these are quite manageable and infinitely rewarding. Brahms’s close friend Robert Schumann wrote Märchenbilder (Fairy Tale Pictures) for viola or violin. Trumpet players will immediately recognize the trumpet-like character of the second movement, which utterly summons us to play not only that Lebhaft, but the entire suite. The trumpet has much to offer this music in filling out its sonorities, and our efforts are amply rewarded.

Lastly, Schubert’s song Auf dem Strom (On the Stream) weaves in a line for our cousin the horn, and gives us trumpeters an opportunity to actually play a part in Schubert’s monumental song canon. I first played this during my last days in that monastery when a German singer moved in as my opportunity to give it a try when we weren’t working in the kitchen. In this version, the tenor voice is down an octave in Eb, not the original E with soprano voice, and the horn part is up an octave for trumpet, bringing the two lines in to closer harmony.

Special thanks to Fazioli Pianoforti