• Michael Blake Watkins
  • Trumpet Concerto (1989)

  • Novello & Co Ltd (World)
  • 2(pic)2(ca)2(bcl)2(cbn)4331timp.3perchpstr
  • trumpet
  • 27 min

Programme Note

Michael Blake Watkins: Trumpet Concerto (1988)

It was in 1985 that Michael Blake Watkins first heard the playing of Hakan Hardenberger, and he has spoken of how he was immediately impressed with Hardenberger’s immense musicianship and beauty of tone, quite apart from his acknowledged virtuosic brilliance and, in this case equally important, his plain stamina. He was thus delighted when, following the international acclaim for his Violin Concerto, the Swede asked him for a major piece. Watkins combined this with a request for a work from the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, and the result is the work we hear tonight.

Those familiar with this composer’s work will immediately recognise the immaculate craftsmanship of the score, the ear for atmosphere and effect, his qualities of passionate lyricism, the combination of both power and restraint and the sense of overall pacing of structure. Indeed what sets him aside from many of his contemporaries is an ability to sustain and develop an idea purely organic means over an extended period.

It is in one movement, made up of five sections. Basic material is introduced by the opening Allegro, presenting us with the work’s thematic substance, which is developed in the following four sections. These are a cadenza (the only one in the work) leading to another fast passage displaying the trumpet’s bright, declamatory character and culminating in an argument between the soloist and the orchestral trumpets: the soloist would appear to win: however, the orchestra settles matters with a furious outburst. The fourth section opens with a solo on the cor anglais, whose lyrical theme is taken up by soloist and orchestra. A quickening of the tempo leads to a dramatic climax before the final section, a short coda, brings the piece to a tranquil conclusion and reconciliation of the thematic ideas.

The work lasts a little under half an hour. It is in some ways a tribute to the composer’s teacher, Richard Rodney Bennett, and quotes from a number of his scores, notably Sonnets to Orpheus for cello and orchestra.

© Giles Easterbrook