Texas Tech University trumpet professor Andrew Stetson in a terrific program of four recently composed works. Each is scored for different forces. James Stephenson’s Concerto for Hope (2015) is a 3-movement, 21-minute work with orchestra. Written for trumpet virtuoso Ryan Anthony, who is battling cancer, the piece nicely balances virtuosity and lyricism, heroism and introspection, despair and optimism. Texas Tech’s student orchestra gives it a terrific reading.
I greatly enjoy Mark Hagerty’s 4-movement, 19-minute None of the Above for trumpet and piano, “a sardonic take on traditional questionnaires and exams that tend to force respondents and answers into narrow, predefined categories”. After an angular and energetic I (‘None of the Above’), II (‘B, C, and D’) is based on those three notes. ‘Other (Explain)’ combines ancient compositional techniques with a modern scale. The fascinating work ends quietly with the often bitonal
‘All of the Above’, where a quasi-improvised trumpet melody is heard over a repeated piano chord progression. Pianist Becca Zeisler plays beautifully.
Justin Casinghino’s …and so then I threw the stone is a 12-minute study for trumpet and electronics, the accompaniment generated via software by the trumpet’s phrases. Inspired by the story of David and Goliath, the work essentially depicts action (trumpet) that causes consequences (electronics). There are moments where it sounds as if there are about 100 Andrew Stetsons playing unison rhythms on different pitches.
The album ends with Michael Mikulka’s 3-movement, 13-minute concerto for trumpet and wind ensemble. I (‘Aggressive’) has an epic quality; a sultry II resembles Gershwin’s laid-back blues; and III is witty and buoyant. Fine work by the Texas Tech Symphonic Band.
Andrew Stetson is a fine trumpet player with all the skills needed for these excellent works.